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Legislative Leaders Call for Medicaid Fix During 2018 Session

legislative leaders
Clay Masters
Iowa's legislative leaders speak at an Associated Press forum Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018.

Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, says the state’s privatized Medicaid system needs to be "in a better position" before the end of the upcoming legislative session.

Iowa’s handover of its Medicaid system to private companies in 2016 has led to patients losing services and providers losing payment.

Upmeyer says Republican House members expect this to be fixed. Whether that fix will come from legislators or the Iowa Department of Human Services remains to be seen.

"This was bumpy," Upmeyer says. "We predicted it would get better. It has not gotten better—it has not improved enough, fast enough, that anyone is comfortable with it." 

She says she hopes the new governor, the new DHS director, and the new Iowa Medicaid director can make recommendations to improve the system.

Gov. Kim Reynolds admits the rollout of Iowa’s Medicaid privatization wasn’t perfect, but she says keeping the new system in place is the right thing to do.

"We have to recognize and admit the mistakes that were made, and then we need to look at ways that we can move forward," Reynolds says.  

Reynolds was lieutenant governor when Iowa started paying private companies to manage the state’s health care program for people who are poor or disabled. 

Upmeyer and Reynolds made their comments Thursday at an Associated Press forum. 

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter