Will Iowa outsource its protection of the elderly?

Iowa’s efforts to privatize a state agency tasked with protecting the elderly and disabled have stalled in the face of escalating complaints that the office is routinely violating federal and state law. Many of the complaints are coming from within the agency itself. Rep. Mary Gaskill, a Democrat from Ottumwa, says the Iowa Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s Office seems to be in disarray and is struggling with staff defections, internal complaints and an uncertain future. “I’m not happy with that,” she said. “It’s not a good situation over there.”

Newly released data from the National Ombudsman Reporting System shows that of the nation’s 50 state long-term care ombudsmen, Iowa ranks last in on-site visits made to care facilities.

Iowa withholds $44M from insurance company that provides Medicaid, citing unresolved payment, claims issues

Iowa health officials are withholding $44 million from an insurance company that provides health coverage to Iowans under the state’s privatized Medicaid program, pointing to unresolved issues with payments to health providers. Iowa Department of Human Services staff told Iowa Total Care representatives Friday that the state will withhold about a third of the amount it would have otherwise paid the company this month. Michael Randol, Iowa’s Medicaid director, said in a letter released Friday that Iowa Total Care had not paid more than 100,000 claims that providers had submitted. 

“Ample opportunity was given (to Iowa Total Care) to remedy the issues,” Randol’s letter said. The state’s action Friday was the first time Iowa’s DHS has withheld payment to a Medicaid insurance provider. Medicaid is the $5 billion federal-state program that provides health coverage to poor and disabled Iowans. Nearly 650,000 Iowans, including children, are enrolled in Medicaid.

Podcast: Iowa Legislative Session Adds Flood Relief To Budget Deliberations

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in the latest IowaWatch Connection radio report and podcast that Iowa needs to streamline the process for getting flood relief to portions of the state pounded with spring flooding. The process will include coming up with funds in Iowa to provide flood relief, matching at some level federal aid that eventually comes into the state, Reynolds said in the weekend radio report. On Monday, Reynolds announced a $15 million legislative funding package the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and her request that the Iowa Legislature approve about $10 million for fiscal 2020. The money next fiscal year would fund housing tax credits for flood-stricken areas of the state. Reynolds also signed an executive order that creates a flood advisory board to coordinate the state’s flood recovery and rebuilding effort.