Andie Dominick, editorial writer for the Des Moines Register won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing by exposing the Branstad/Reynolds Medicaid privatization catastrophe. Dominick was recognized for articles that the Pulitzer Prize Board described as, “examining in a clear, indignant voice, free of cliché or sentimentality, the damaging consequences for poor Iowa residents of privatizing the state’s administration of Medicaid.”
The Board uses this criterion for the selection of the editorial writing award. “The test of excellence being clearness of style, moral purpose, sound reasoning, and power to influence public opinion in what the writer conceives to be the right direction, using any available journalistic tool.”
The Board selected the winner from hundreds of media outlets and thousands of editorials. They chose Dominick for her compelling descriptions of the victims of Medicaid privatization and the denial of health care to thousands of Iowans. Because the Pulitzer Prize is recognized and revered throughout the world this award will focus attention on the Branstad and Reynolds’ failed privatization experiment.
Governor Reynolds continues to defend her Medicaid privatization tragedy. Reynolds doubled down on her support for the failed Medicaid privatization in her Condition of the State message saying, “Almost two years ago, we modernized our Medicaid system to an individualized, patient-centered approach… It was a change that needed to be made.”
It’s evident Dominick’s editorials demolished Reynolds’ claims of modernization and patient centered service. Reynolds’ continued stubborn devotion to a failed privatization experiment demonstrates her inability to listen to public opinion and her lack of compassion for the suffering of thousands of Iowa Medicaid victims.
The Pulitzer Board specifically cited a series of nine editorials Dominick wrote that, “put a human face on denials of care, loss of access to services, and providers going out of business because they were not being reimbursed by for-profit insurers.”
Iowans expect their Governor to exercise effective and sound leadership. That requires an admission of failure and a willingness to fix problems when that’s the only option. Rather than face the Medicaid failures that Dominick described so eloquently, Reynolds continues to make excuses at each new Medicaid disaster.
When one of three of the for-profit Managed Care Organizations dropped out and left 9,000 Iowans stranded without coverage, Reynolds simply replied with more excuses.
Reynolds said she has no intention of abandoning Medicaid privatization. “I’ve never said it was perfect,” she said. “I’m willing to put the time and the effort into making sure that Iowans get the care that they deserve in a managed and coordinated and more modern delivery system.”
“I’m not going back,” she added.
The drive to save the state money was a key motivation for privatizing Medicaid in the first place. Branstad/Reynolds claimed that the state would save $232 million in 2018 through privatization. In January 2018 Department of Human Services (DHS) estimated the savings had shriveled to $47 million. The Governor’s spokesperson once again defended privatization with excuses. Reynolds defense is unfathomable in light of Dominick’s thorough analysis.
“The governor believes Medicaid modernization is a proactive, patient-centered approach and remains committed to improving access, quality of care and accountability for patient outcomes,” the Governor’s spokesperson said.
In February 2018 Reynolds dramatically changed her strategy. She went from merely defending the failed Medicaid program to a plan to hide the facts from the public. She announced she supported a bill introduced at the request her DHS Director Foxhoven to end the reporting requirements of Medicaid privatization. In other words, the Medicaid privatization horror stories were becoming such a political liability that the Republican-controlled legislature offered to bury the unfavorable reports for her.
In an especially hypocritical double take, Reynolds said she supported the bill that would diminish public reporting, by claiming it would enhance transparency. The bill would prevent performance reporting rather than improve transparency. In a rambling non-explanation, she gave this answer.
“He’s (Foxhoven) really trying to look at every aspect of it, streamline it, make it so they can do their job in a more effective manner, while balancing reporting and transparency.”
When Iowans choose their next governor they should consider the Pulitzer’s Prize Board’s overwhelming endorsement of Dominick’s comprehensive analysis. Dominick won the Pulitzer because she accurately and honestly reported the Reynolds’ privatizing of Medicaid as a disaster for thousands of Iowans.
by Rick Smith