Last week, Governor Kim Reynolds’ Department of Human Services (DHS) gave three separate and wildly contradictory estimates of Medicaid privatization savings. Not only do these three latest estimates conflict with one another, none of them come close to earlier estimates made by Reynolds’ office. Adding to their latest wacky estimates, Reynolds has failed to provide any substantiation of these alleged savings.
The first savings estimate put out on Thursday was described as a “projected annual range” of $140.9 million. The next day, they reversed their description, calling it a “cumulative” savings since April 2016. Later on Friday, they changed their description a third time and claimed the $140.9 million was an annual estimate.
These latest estimates differ as well from a December 2017 projection of $47 million in savings for the current fiscal year. None of these latest estimates come close to the original 2015 promise of $232 million in savings this fiscal year. It’s obvious Iowa taxpayers have been bamboozled over and over by Reynolds’ incompetent management by this estimating circus.
Imagine if Reynolds was the CEO of a $5 billion company (Medicaid costs taxpayer $4.8 billion per year) and issued multiple conflicting estimates of millions of dollars in savings over two years with no underlying verification? If this were private sector corporate management, Reynolds would be history. No board of directors would tolerate this comically incompetent and bungling management of billions of dollars. Iowa taxpayers are her board of directors and they deserve an accurate and professional assessment of savings based on a verified accounting of all spending.
Democratic Senator Pam Jochum is asking State Auditor Mary Mosiman, “to determine if Iowans are really saving money by paying out-of-state, for-profit insurance companies to care for our most vulnerable … Auditor Mosiman has said her unofficial office motto is, ‘In God We Trust. Everyone Else We Audit.’ That’s exactly the attitude we should all take to the suspect claims being made about Iowa’s disastrous Medicaid privatization.”
If Reynolds can’t give Iowans a straight answer on the alleged savings, then privatization is exposed as a total con perpetrated on Iowa taxpayers. Saving money was the primary reason used to justify turning the lives of 600,000 Iowans with disabilities and elderly Iowans upside down by privatizing Medicaid.
Reynolds’ DHS has failed for two years to meet the savings goal that was used to justify privatization. However, more troubling is that Reynolds has failed to demand DHS provide evidence to substantiate their wildly varying estimates. The public has no idea whether these estimates are based on any proof of savings or are created out of thin air for pure political spin.
On Friday, DHS spokesman offered to provide an explanation of the savings to the Des Moines Register “on background” (off the record). The Register rightly refused the offer, demanding that DHS disclose it to the public.
Iowa taxpayers should be outraged by the fiscal mismanagement of privatization alone. Still, putting aside the total lack of fiscal accountability, the physical harm and mental stress to the 600,000 disabled and elderly Medicaid recipients is reprehensible. This long and continuing saga of healthcare horror stories reported by vulnerable Iowans is cruel and appalling. Each week exposes additional helpless Iowans suffering under the inhuman treatment of the for-profit private Medicaid companies.
Add to that the endless stories of Iowa’s healthcare providers getting stiffed by these same for-profit companies. The healthcare providers struggle to care for Iowa’s most vulnerable population while the for-profit companies deny their payments, reimburse them at below their cost and force them to borrow to stay afloat.
This Reynolds’ privatization catastrophe must end. Thousands of elderly and Iowans with disabilities have been tortured long enough with a foolish privatization experiment that has totally failed to measure up to its stated economic objectives.
by Rick Smith
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