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Iowa Medicaid Changeover Delayed Til March

John Pemble/IPR file photo
Iowa Capitol

Federal officials have told Iowa the state is not ready to transition management of its Medicaid system to private companies.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has told Iowa in a letter today it may transition to private management on March 1st instead of January 1st, 2016, as long as the state makes sufficient progress toward readiness by that time.  

The agency says, “a transition on January 1st would risk serious disruption in the care for Iowa Medicaid beneficiaries.”

CMS spokesman Aaron Albright says CMS's priority was making sure Iowa's 560,000 Medicaid beneficiaries have timely access to the health services they need.

"While Iowa has made progress towards the state’s transition to managed care, our detailed review has identified significant gaps that need to be addressed before CMS can authorize the state’s waiver," he says.

For example, today was the deadline for Medicaid recipients to choose one of four Managed Care Organizations, but many said they still didn't have enough information on things like which MCO their own doctor or other provider had signed with.

Jane Hudson of Disability Rights Iowa says she feels “great relief” by the decision.

"The delay was very much needed and we’re surprised that the governor and the state wouldn’t have delay it themselves," she says.  "They should have realized we weren’t ready for managed care on January 1st.

A statement from Gov. Branstad says the feds have "given the green light to Iowa as long as steps are taken to build on progress already made."

Michael Leland is IPR's News Director