Democrats call on Statehouse Republicans to ‘put Iowans back in control of Medicaid’

In a letter emailed today to Governor Reynolds and Republican lawmakers, Iowa’s Democratic state legislators are asking for bipartisan cooperation during the 2018 session to end Iowa’s failed Medicaid privatization experiment.

Iowa Senate News Release
For Immediate Release: December 15, 2017


DES MOINES — Iowa’s Democratic state legislators are asking Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican lawmakers to work together during the 2018 session to end Iowa’s failed Medicaid privatization experiment.

“We do our best work when we work in a bipartisan fashion” to expand access to affordable health care for many Iowans, Democratic legislators wrote in a letter emailed today to the Governor and every Republican lawmaker.

“For the past 20 months, constituents of all ages have been bombarding Governor Reynolds and Republican and Democratic legislators with real problems caused by Medicaid privatization,” Democrats wrote. “There is clear evidence that Iowans have died as a result of life-sustaining services being cut off to extremely vulnerable individuals.”

The letter also stresses the “financial jeopardy” that Medicaid privatization has imposed on hospitals, nursing homes and other Iowa health care providers, especially in Iowa’s small towns and rural areas.

Democratic lawmakers noted that “privatization is not saving money for Iowa’s taxpayers, and it is not resulting in healthier Iowans. Under Medicaid privatization, the state of Iowa keeps giving the private, out-of-state companies more and more money, while giving Iowa taxpayers less and less.”

Medicaid is a health care safety net that is administered by the states and funded through a federal-state partnership. Roughly 70 percent of Medicaid expenses are for the care of our very poor elderly and severely disabled Iowans. In 2015, the Branstad/Reynolds Administration announced that the state employees running the program would be replaced by for-profit Medicaid managers.

Despite widespread opposition and repeated delays, large, out-of-state companies took over care of the majority of Iowans receiving Medicaid services on April 1, 2016. As of today, three of the four companies initially hired to manage the program have abandoned the project. When AmeriHealth Caritas quit the state last month, the health care of 215,000 Iowans was disrupted.

Governor Reynolds has promised that more managed care organizations are being recruited to replace those that left.

In today’s letter, Democratic lawmakers propose a different approach: “When Connecticut realized its privatized Medicaid was not working, state leaders made the decision to go back to a publicly managed Medicaid system. Connecticut is now seeing much better results with their new model. They are saving money and improving care.”

The letter concludes with this plea:

“More than ever before, we all know that privatized Medicaid is not working for Iowa. For the health and safety of so many, will you work with us to put Iowans back in control of Medicaid? We can and should do better for Iowans. Watching our health care system collapse is not an option.”