Once again, hundreds of thousands of Iowans dependent on Medicaid have been thrown under the bus as another Managed Care Company (MCO) abandoned them. Last Friday, Governor Kim Reynolds announced that United Healthcare is terminating their contract for the care of over 425,000 poor and disabled Iowans.
Reynolds and Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Jerry Foxhoven are busy arguing with United Healthcare about who is at fault. While they waste time pointing fingers and blaming one another, State Auditor Rob Sand and House Democrats are demanding action.
Iowa’s new State Auditor Rob Sand has stepped in to tell Iowans that he has their backs. He held a press conference yesterday and outlined how he will protect Medicaid patients, providers and taxpayers as they endure yet another Medicaid crisis. His reassurance to these vulnerable Medicaid recipients at this critical time is essential in calming their fears.
In the Legislature, House Democrats introduced amendments this week to finally put an end to these continuing Medicaid debacles by ending privatization and returning it to state control. Unfortunately, since Republicans control the House and Senate, the Democrats’ actions are already being blocked.
This is the latest in a series of catastrophic disruptions that Iowans have suffered following former Governor Branstad’s unilateral privatization of Medicaid. This is the second MCO that has turned their back on Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens. Amerihealth Caritas bailed on Iowans in 2017 after they said they were losing too much money.
Reynolds continues to be in denial as the latest Medicaid fiasco will force 425,000 Iowans to choose another MCO. Her statement following the latest crisis could have been a cut-and-paste from all the preceding Medicaid disasters. There is no recognition that anything is wrong or an acknowledgement that Iowans and their families will suffer through another major disruption in their health care.
“From the day I was sworn in as Governor, I have been committed to ensuring a sustainable managed care program that protects patients, supports providers, and holds the insurance companies accountable,” said Reynolds in a press release.
Over 425,000 Iowans are fearful, frustrated and stressed as they must again navigate a new insurance company, new policies, new contacts and possibly new providers. Many of these patients and their families are facing yet another major turmoil in their lives.
Auditor Rob Sand called the news conference to reassure all the stakeholders that there is a process in place to safeguard their interests, and he vowed to hold United Healthcare to the contract obligations.
“United has the obligation to put someone in charge of making sure everything is working through their full departure from the state,” Sand said. “Meaning all of their patients have been handed off to someone else. I think it’s very important for taxpayers and for patients to know that’s going to be someone’s obligation, and that person is going to be appointed. And they need to know that’s the person they will be contacting … That is an obligation United owes taxpayers and patients, and I think people need to be aware of that so they can make sure they’re getting it.”
Sand referenced the 427-page United Healthcare contract with the state and posted relevant contract obligations to all the stakeholders. He emphasized the absolute need for transparency and continuing communication to ease the fears of all the Medicaid recipients as well as their providers.
That’s certainly a refreshing and much needed commitment that Reynolds has failed to provide. While Reynolds and Foxhoven provide happy talk, Rob Sand is providing detailed answers to the victims on how he will help them navigate this latest Medicaid crisis. Patients and providers have been pleading for someone to champion their cause and they have found it in Rob Sand.
by Rick Smith