Iowa senators: Are we really ready for Medicaid privatization?

In late February, the federal government approved Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R)'s plan to privatize Medicaid in the state. Although the switch to privatization is set to occur April 1, numerous state senators remain skeptical, according to The Des Moines Register.

During a Statehouse hearing March 16, senators and Iowa Department of Human Services officials discussed the shift to privatization, which has already been delayed twice.

"We need to make sure our members are safe and our providers are being paid," said Medicaid Director Mikki Stier, according to the report. She added that the three private companies — Amerigroup, Amerihealth and UnitedHealthcare — know there are "clear expectations" of their requirements.

But senators don't believe the state is ready for the change. "There's so much frustration out there that when we talk to people, they actually break down and cry. ... What do I tell these people?" asked Sen. Bill Dotzler (D).

Other senators are concerned not enough care providers have signed contracts with one of the three companies. Senate President Pam Jochum (D) said the Senate had taken months to send her a list of providers who had signed contracts.

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