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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2018

Chamber calls for ‘repeal’ of Medicaid managed care system

MP Chamber Government Affairs Committee discussed priorities during legislative luncheon on Thursday
By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News | Jan 05, 2018

There was one thing everyone agreed on during the legislative luncheon Thursday afternoon — that Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system, implemented by former Gov. Terry Branstad, has not worked.

The legislative luncheon was held by the Mt. Pleasant Chamber Government Affairs Committee on the Iowa Wesleyan University campus. During the luncheon, Executive Vice President of the Chamber Alliance Kristi Ray laid out the Alliance’s priorities to Rep. Dave Heaton (R-Mt. Pleasant) and Sen. Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant). Topping the list of priorities was the repeal of the Medicaid managed care system.

“We urge our state legislature to immediately repeal the privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid system,” said Ray. “The goals established when the system was privatized have not been advanced.”

Ray stated the three MCOs have lost more than $100 million in the first year, which has required the state to offset the losses and thus diminish any state gain.

Long-term care access, inability to coordinate community based behavioral health options, administrative complexities and inefficiencies were all listed as burdens to providers. “Delays in payments have placed significant strain on providers,” Ray said, adding Henry County Health Center lost nearly $1 million in fiscal year 2017 due to the lack of reimbursements from the Managed Care system.

“We fear the financial sustainability of rural health care, especially right here in Henry County, is being threatened. We ask for your support in doing something in securing that rural health care we all rely on.”

Taylor, who will begin his third term on Monday, said he was against the privatization of Medicaid from the beginning. “I’ve been fighting against the privatization of Medicaid since this started. It was a big mistake,” he said.

Heaton, however, who serves as the chairman of the House Health and Human Services Appropriation Committee, where Medicaid funding falls, said the mistake was in how the privatization was done. Heaton said he was initially “surprised” when then-Gov. Terry Branstad announced his plan to transform the state’s Medicaid system into a privatized one. Heaton looked to other states, like Kentucky, who have privatized Medicaid and done it successfully, which is why he’s not “necessarily supportive of repealing totally the managed care approach.”

States who successfully privatized Medicaid did not do so as a cost-saving measure, like Iowa, according to Heaton. Instead, they did it as a way to slow the growing price of the state-managed system.

“What I’m asking the governor (Kim Reynolds) to do is try to improve the system we have,” he said. “I want her to go to other states where it’s working and find out why Iowa is an anomaly in this process.”

Other priorities Ray laid out were taking a look at the State’s tax credits, the educational Future Ready Iowa initiatives and a need for broadband in rural areas.

The luncheon was a kickoff to the Chamber’s legislative series, which will be held at the University’s Chadwick Library throughout the legislative session with Heaton and Taylor. The first forum will be held on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 8:30 a.m. The forum will focus on economic development.

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