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Medicaid Transition Still Slated for March 1

John Pemble
Iowa Public Radio
Joyce Russell talks with Rep. Linda Miller and Sen. Liz Mathis at the law library at the Iowa Statehouse

Even though lawmakers in the Iowa Senate voted to stop privatization of the state's Medicaid program last week, the measure is unlikely to pass in the Iowa House. The system is still slated to switch to private management on March 1 unless the federal government steps in. 

Amy McCoy, public information officer for the Iowa Department of Human Services, says that she and others in the department are working hard to ensure the transition goes smoothly. She says she's not concerned that two weeks away from the switch, providers are still deciding whether they'll sign up with four managed care organizations that will offer health plans for Iowans receiving Medicaid. 

"I'm not concerned about that because I see the numbers changing every day. When we look at the number of providers we have in Iowa, we have about 28,000 providers who are active in the last 12 months. Ninety percent of those have signed on with at least one managed care organizations, 70 percent have signed on with at least two, and 60 percent have signed up with all three," McCoy explains. 

"We do know that we have some providers who really want to wait for that final word from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, and when we get that final word, I think you'll see those remaining 10 percent of providers come onto the system." 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and Iowa Public Radio Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell talk with Amy McCoy about the state's efforts to ensure a smooth transition. Representative Linda Miller (R), Senator Liz Mathis (D), and Julie Heidger, who has three sons insured through Medicaid, also join the conversation. 

Iowans who receive Medicaid have until February 17 to select a plan. McCoy says if Iowans pick a plan and are unsatisfied after it goes into effect on March 1, they have until mid-May to make changes in enrollment for any reason. Iowans with questions should call member services at 1-800-338-8366. 

Lindsey Moon served as IPR's Senior Digital Producer - Music and the Executive Producer of IPR Studio One's All Access program. Moon started as a talk show producer with Iowa Public Radio in May of 2014. She came to IPR by way of Illinois Public Media, an NPR/PBS dual licensee in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Wisconsin Public Radio, where she worked as a producer and a general assignment reporter.
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River