Concerns raised over latest wrinkle in Medicaid managed care

DES MOINES — Advocates for disabled patients are speaking out about upcoming changes in Iowa’s privately-managed Medicaid program.

One of the for-profit companies managing the program is ending its contract with the state on November 30. Critics say it will be a difficult for the 18,000 patients who need services including daily feeding and bathing to change case managers and providers by December 1.

“While it may seem like paperwork and like moving names and numbers from one computer program to another, it has real-life consequences for the people who have to change care providers,” said Lori Allen, a member of state Medical Assistance Advisory Committee.

Iowa Department of Human Services director Jerry Foxhoven said 215,000 Iowa Medicaid patients have had their care managed by the exiting company and all of them will be switched to United Health Care.

“Everybody has to scramble and it’s been a scramble for us as well,” Foxhoven said. “I think we’re going to make it work and I think United has really committed well.”

But State Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City said vulnerable Iowans who depend on Medicaid for the basic functions of life deserve better. Bolkcom is a member of the advisory panel that met with Foxhoven Tuesday and the two has a tense exchange.

“You’re flippantly telling me it’s no big deal they’ve left the state. I have no confidence in your ability to manage anything at this point,” Bolkcom said.

Foxhoven replied: “Well, I want to tell you that I’m not flippant about this, senator. We’re doing everything that we can to make sure these people get their care.”

Iowa’s Medicaid program had been managed by state employees, but Governor Branstad oversaw the switch to having three private companies manage care for all Medicaid patients in Iowa. That switch happened on April 1, 2016. At 10 o’clock this morning, a 10-member legislative panel convened to conduct its own review of the Medicaid switch.

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