Lawmakers Concerned Over Fast-tracking Medicaid Modernization

Feb 26, 2015

The Iowa Department of Human Services is seeking bids to outsource parts of the more than $4 billion  Medicaid program. Some lawmakers question the quality of care and cost savings the move will provide.

DHS Director Chuck Palmer tells lawmakers the managed care plan will save more than 51-million dollars. He says it’ll reduce duplication of services, unnecessary hospitalizations and promote a more efficient delivery of healthcare to low-income Iowans on this joint federal state program. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, says there are opportunities to improve healthcare and many states have had mixed results implementing similar plans.

“We’re going to spend approximately $600 million a year to hire these managed care companies to operate a system that the state’s been operating," Bolkcom says. "I guess a question about whether the value of that kind of investment is worth that kind of money.”

Bolkcom, who serves on the healthcare law writing Health Appropriations committee, says medical professionals have told lawmakers on the committee implementing managed-care takes time.

"A six month to seven month rollout of this is extraordinarily fast," Bolkcom says. "It’s more like a year to two year process. I think there’s concern from providers and consumers over the rush to get this in place.”

DHS will hold public hearings on the topic in the next couple of weeks in Des Moines, Davenport, Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs.