The state of Iowa has been transitioning its Medicaid to a privatized managed care program, but to date there have been few takers among hospitals.
Although 12,000 providers, including physicians and pharmacies, have signed contracts to provide services to Medicaid enrollees, there have been few signups among hospitals, the Des Moines Register reported. Among the four health plans that have enrolled Medicaid patients, none of them have signed up more than 17 of the 118 hospitals participating in the Medicaid program statewide.
"It's unbelievable that Gov. Terry Branstad...would claim that it's good news for Iowans that fewer than one-third of Iowa's Medicaid providers have signed up for their proposed Medicaid privatization program," said state Sen. Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat. "It is actually bad news because the effect of such low participation by healthcare providers would be to prevent hundreds of thousands of Iowans from accessing affordable, quality healthcare."
The Branstad administration has come under fire for the way it manages its Medicaid program. Iowa officials agreed initially to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. However, difficulties in managing expansion under a waiver it secured from the federal government have led to state officials saying it would close it down shortly. The state was also critiqued for its selection of health plans in the privatization process, all of which have settled past allegations of fraud.
Hospitals have been hostile to the transition, which the Branstad administration said would cut costs and streamline the delivery of care. Earlier this month, the Iowa Hospital Association and 11 acute care facilities sued the state, the same newspaper reported. claiming the transition would illegally take money from a trust fund to which they contribute in order to draw down additional Medicaid matching dollars, as well as eliminate opportunities to make the Medicaid program more efficient.