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Despite Ruling, Branstad Says Medicaid Privatization Still Set for January 1st

Photo by John Pemble
Gov. Terry Branstad has no plans to delay the privatization of Medicaid in Iowa.

Gov. Terry Branstad says the state will move forward as planned with the January 1st deadline for Medicaid privatization in Iowa. That’s despite last week’s recommendation from Administrative Law Judge Christie Scase that the state dismiss one of four contracts it awarded to for-profit companies to manage Iowa’s Medicaid programs.

The ruling found that Tampa, Florida-based WellCare had improper communications with the governor’s chief healthcare advisor during the bid process, and that the company should have disclosed information about a false-claims settlement. Regardless of WellCare's fate, the governor says there is no reason to delay Iowa's transition to privately managed Medicaid.

"The initial idea was to have two-to-four [companies], so if the administrative law judge's preliminary recommendation is the one adopted, we can move forward with the three," says Branstad.

The governor has directed Janet Phipps, the head of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, to decide whether to adhere to the administrative judge's recommendation. 

There are roughly 560,000 Iowans on Medicaid.