DES MOINES, Iowa -- Nearly 600,000 low-income, poor and disabled Iowans will see an additional $386 million dollars in total state and federal dollars towards their private Medicaid. "It's one percent less coming out of the general fund. We are starting to bend the cost curve. We've improved access, increased what we pay to providers and in addition to that we are placing more accountability for the Managed Care Organizations," said Governor Kim Reynolds.
That 8.6% bump from last year in funds to those MCOs has State House Representative and Democrat John Forbes worried. "It is still $386,000,000 coming out of Iowans pocketbooks," said Forbes.
The deal includes an extra $23M to nursing facilities, an additional $12.8M in mental health funding and expands Hepatitis C coverage. Reynolds said, "Since I was sworn in as Governor I said it is my priority to have a sustainable managed care program that we really were doing everything we could working with vulnerable Iowans to make sure we were improving outcomes."
Iowa began with three providers in 2016. Two have left the state leaving Amerigroup as the lone original provider along with Iowa Total Care who began coverage this July. "After three years of failed policies and taking care of patients in the state of Iowa I think it`s time for Iowans to re-look at this and go back to a state run program," Forbes said.
Since the state`s inception of privatized Medicaid under then Governor Terry Branstad, the program has seen a roller coaster of pros and cons. Governor Reynolds doesn't shy away from that but sees progress with the new deal. Reynolds said, "We made some mistakes moving forward. We are addressing those, it`s not going to happen overnight. We are going to continue to work every single day." Mistakes that Forbes, who has provided Medicaid coverage for thirty-nine years as a pharmacist, says he'd love to help correct but seems to keep getting the Governor's busy signal. He said, "I've asked the Governor at least twice to sit down and talk about this issue and she has not allowed me to have a meeting with her yet."
Managed Care Organizations will now be required to load provider rates within 30 days. The increase follows an 8.4% increase the previous year.