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Branstad Continues to Defend Deadline for Medicaid Privatization

Flickr / Tyler

At the Iowa Taxpayers Association's annual symposium on Friday, elected officials discussed Medicaid and the program's transition into management by four private, for-profit companies. The change is scheduled for January 1st, but many say this is a rushed deadline. 

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, says he anticipates that during the next legislative session, a lot of focus will be devoted to resolving Medicaid-related issues. 

"The transition has not been going smoothly," says Gronstal. "The department has sent out letters with incorrect phone numbers on them. People are calling trying to get advice on which provider to pick. I think those are going to be nagging issues that take a lot of energy of the legislature to try and deal with those." 

Gov. Terry Branstad says anytime there is a big transition there will always be complications, but he will not sway from having January 1st as the start date. That’s partly because the state legislature has based its budget on the cost savings related to implementation of Medicaid’s private management.

"It's not a  rush, we announced it a year ago, and we're following the same path that a lot of other states have," says the governor. "The fact of the matter is, this has been a very  thorough, thoughtful approach." 

Branstad projects privatization will save Iowa tax payers $51 million. 

Due to violations during the application process, last month an administration law judge recommended that the state toss its contract with WellCare, one of the companies Iowa contacted with to manage Medicaid. 

Next week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will visit Iowa to determine if the state can move forward with the transition to private Medicaid management.