Iowa’s Privatized Medicaid in “State of Emergency”

Four months is all it took. In April, when Iowa governor Terry Branstad handed over the state’s Medicaid program to private insurance companies, many questioned his motives. Recent large-scale transitions to privatized Medicaid in states like Florida and Kansas haven’t fared well. The Des Moines Registerwarned, “The health care of a half million people and $4 billion in public money are at stake.”

Now, just four months later, billing problems are piling up.

Hundreds of Iowa’s Medicaid providers say the insurance companies aren’t paying them on time. For many, administrative costs have gone up. The privatized program, which Branstad claimed would “modernize” care, is actually making it harder for many doctors, hospitals, clinics, and nonprofits to provide care.

A state senator says the program is in “a state of emergency.” If providers continue to go unpaid, many may be forced to stop taking Medicaid patients or close their doors all together.

By handing over control of Medicaid to corporations, Branstad has jeopardized the jobs of thousands of providers and the health of nearly 600,000 elderly, disabled, and poor Iowans—22% of the state’s population.

So why is this even happening? Branstad should’ve known that allowing corporations to profit from the only source of health care available to the state’s most vulnerable wouldn’t add up. If he had simply looked southwest a few hundred miles, to Kansas, he would’ve seen that privatizing Medicaid there has led to rising costs and reduced care.

– In The Public Interest

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