The latest news about Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system pours more salt in the wounds of those who have suffered from the cuts made by the private companies hired by the State to manage the system.
The state announced it’s paying an additional $344 million to two companies that run Iowa’s Medicaid system.
Of that money, $103 million will come from Iowa taxpayers, the rest will come from the federal government.
A new agreement between the state and two private insurers means taxpayers will foot a $103 million increase to the state’s $5 billion Medicaid program. Amerigroup of Iowa and UnitedHealthcare will continue to cover for the state’s privatized health care system, which provides care to more than 600,000 Iowans.
The reason given by Iowa Republicans for privatizing the State’s Medicaid system was that it would save taxpayer money by being more “efficient”. The only efficient thing the privatization of the State’s Medicaid system has done is pour taxpayer money into the hands of corporate executives.
It has been a giant scam. Iowans are now paying more money for lower quality health care. Here are a few examples:
This was the second year in a row that UnitedHealthcare attempted to make such cuts to Campbell’s services, claiming they were “not medically needed.” He pushed back both times, drawing statewide attention as an example of a severely disabled Iowan struggling to maintain care under the state’s shift to private Medicaid management.
Medicaid is now paying Iowa dentists a mere $27 to clean patients’ teeth, according to the executive director of the Iowa Dental Association.
That pathetically low reimbursement — likely less than the cost of an oil change or decent lawn mowing — is another result of changes made since Iowa’s Medicaid program was privatized by a governor who now lives in China.
The tactic seems to be reimbursing dentists so little they will not treat Medicaid patients. Then insurers don’t need to pay the bills. Unfortunately, the shameful strategy seems to be working.
“These are seriously ill people who are going to stay that way,” said Jim Gallagher, a psychiatrist who has treated patients in the program since 1987. “We can bring them up to a certain level with medications, but they are so ill that they’re not going to be independent. They are the people the state hospitals used to take care of.”
Gallagher contacted the Des Moines Register editorial board because he is outraged a for-profit managed care company that is contracted to administer Iowa’s $4.8 billion Medicaid program is not paying the provider.
Country View Estates, a small operator in Guthrie Center, is yet another victim of a Medicaid system privatized by Gov. Terry Branstad in 2016 and perpetuated by his successor, Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Hundreds of disabled Iowans are being denied the medical devices they need, including wheelchairs, shower stools and even nutritional supplements, by private Medicaid providers that routinely refuse to pay for them, the Des Moines Register has found.
The casualties are patients like 4-year-old Tatum Woods of Vinton, Iowa, who for nearly six months was forced to crawl because a private Medicaid provider said it would pay less than a fifth of the cost of his $3,500 customized walker.
“These kids shouldn’t have to fight to get their equipment,” said Kristie Woods, Tatum’s mother. “They’ve already got enough struggles.”
So, what is the current Republican Governor of Iowa Kim Reynolds doing about all of these problems with the State’s privatized Medicaid system, a system which is costing more and providing less? Is she working to defend the people of Iowa from these corporations, or defend these corporations from the people of Iowa?
Well, you probably guessed it, she is trying to defend the corporations from the people, of course…by intimidating whistleblowers:
Gov. Kim Reynolds has dropped an outspoken Medicaid adviser who repeatedly voiced concerns about how private management companies were treating Iowans with disabilities.
David Hudson spent two years as co-chairman of Iowa’s Medical Assistance Advisory Council, whose duties include monitoring the state’s shift to private management of its $5 billion Medicaid program.
“I felt that I was asking the questions the governor should have been asking,” he said in an interview at his Windsor Heights home. “… I guess I pushed back too hard or something.”