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Hawk-I Contracts Change Hands

Kids on Hawk-I, Iowa’s Medicaid program for low income children, are receiving new insurance cards in the mail. But they might not put them to much use, since Iowa’s Medicaid program is scheduled to go into privatized management on March 1.

Initially the transition to privatization was scheduled for New Year’s Day. In anticipation of this date, insurer Wellmark scaled back its Hawk-I resources; but now the transition is scheduled for March so Wellmark’s Hawk-I contracts need a new home.

Another Hawk-I insurer, United Healthcare, will take over until all Iowa's Medicaid transitions to privatization management. Currently Wellmark covers 75 percent of Hawk-I recipients, and UnitedHealthcare covers the rest. 

"UnitedHealthcare has been providing Hawk-I coverage for 20 years, so it has experienced staff," says Iowa Department of Human Services spokesperson Amy McCoy. "They're doing what they can to make sure that people can continue to see their doctor. And their doctor can continue to be reimbursed, even if they're not currently in the United network." 

Earlier this month, the federal government told Iowa the state wasn’t ready to privatize Medicaid, saying a Jan. 1 transition, "would risk serious disruptions in care for Iowa Medicaid beneficiaries." 

When the transition does occur, the management of Hawk-I will again change hands.