Democrats in the Iowa Senate today ratcheted up their challenge to Governor Branstad’s plan to privatize Medicaid, the state’s health care program for the low-income and disabled.
They introduced a bill to repeal the initiative, but Republicans are standing by the Governor’s proposal.
Democrats say privatizing Medicaid will disrupt long-standing relations between patients and providers and compromise patient care. Their bill would cancel the contracts with three for-profit, out of state companies chosen to manage the program.
Democrats report numerous complaints from Medicaid patients and their families. Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer is also hearing from constituents.
“I’m hearing people with questions and the reason we’re having so many questions is because we’re spending our time protecting the status quo instead of moving forward,” Upmeyer says. “Any change is a challenge for all of us.”
Upmeyer accuses Democrats of sabotaging the program.
She says she’s confident the state will meet the federal government’s requirements.
“In my conversation with the governor, that they were achieving the goals and thresholds set,” Upmeyer says
Democrats charge the program is not ready for its scheduled March 1 start date.
A hearing on the bill to repeal Medicaid privatization is scheduled for next week.
Upmeyer says she’s not interested in a bill that the Governor would veto if it reached his desk.
Medicaid privatization is projected to save the state money in the next fiscal year. Republicans question how the Democrats’ budget would cover that loss.