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GOP: Massive Cut to ReynoldsCare “Doesn’t Make Sense”

Even Iowa Republicans are speaking out against Governor Kim Reynolds’ proposed massive cuts to health care in the state.

The AP reported that members of the Governors own party say that her proposed $10 million in cuts to ReynoldsCare don’t make sense and that “there isn’t enough data to back up” Reynolds’ claims regarding impacts of these cuts.

“It’s rare that I agree with Speaker Upmeyer, but she’s right that Reynolds’ plan to slash funding from health care when Iowans are already struggling to access the care they need ‘doesn’t make sense,’ ” said Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price. “Yet again, Iowans are paying the price for the Reynolds Budget Crisis and her wrong priorities that put tax giveaways for special interests ahead of the needs of Iowa’s own families and local businesses.”

See excerpts from the story below:

Iowa Republicans have started wading through the hard realities of mid-year budget cuts, and some are expressing reservations about a proposal from Gov. Kim Reynolds to reduce $10 million from the state’s health care program for the poor and disabled.

The cut to Medicaid would be the largest of Reynolds’ nearly $30 million in reductions to the current $7.2 billion budget that runs through June. Her staff claims it won’t reduce services, but there isn’t enough data to back up the argument and Reynolds will ultimately have to make her case to fellow Republicans who control the Legislature.

Some already appear wary of removing money from a program under scrutiny for reports of reduced services under privatization.

“House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Clear Lake Republican, said she’s heard that concern privately from her caucus. She added the reduction seemed “counter-intuitive,” but she’s checking with the Iowa Department of Human Services, the agency that oversees the program, for definitive information.

‘That’s the one I think … we really want to understand how that would be possible, because we’re actually inclined to think that doesn’t make sense,’ she said.”

“Sen. Charles Schneider, a West Des Moines Republican who chairs a key budget committee, said similar discussions are happening in the Senate.

‘As much as Medicaid has been in the news, we want to be sure we’re providing adequate funding for it,’ he said.”

Private insurance companies took over Iowa’s Medicaid program in 2016. Since then, health care providers and Medicaid recipients have filed complaints about reduced services and delayed reimbursements. 

…Peter Brantner, executive director of Crossroads Behavioral Health Services, expressed frustration at proposed Medicaid cuts because he’s seen no drop in patients to his organization, which has offices in southern Iowa and treats individuals with mental health and substance abuse problems.

“How would they affect the services that Medicaid members need to maximize their potential?” he asked.

…The budget proposals worry Kirsten Corrigan, a public health consultant in Marion whose 16-year-old son, Ryan, uses a wheelchair, is non-verbal and requires 24-hour monitoring. He receives most of his medical care through private insurance but gets some services through Medicaid.

Corrigan said looking at Medicaid through the lens of a spreadsheet does a disservice to people like Ryan.

“There’s been so many denials and delays,” she said of the experiences of families. “I think a lot of people are falling through the cracks, and there’s a lot of cost that’s not being reported because of that.”

Last night, despite one party being in control of all levers of power, the government shut down. Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price released the following statement on the debacle in D.C.:

“This government shutdown is the direct result of the Republican Party’s refusal to engage in productive bipartisanship. This is the first time ever that the government has shut down with one party in charge. Their party literally holds all the levers of power. Americans will be asking why they did not use them to fix this mess.

Shame on Senators Grassley and Ernst along with Congressmen Blum, Young, and King for failing to show leadership and help those looking for a solution. These Iowans seem to have forgotten that they were sent to Washington to serve the people of our state, not use us as bargaining chips. We applaud Congressman Loebsack for staying on the job until a bipartisan solution is found, and we know he will continue to advocate for the people of Iowa throughout these negotiations.”

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This week, the Iowa Democratic Party is throwing it back to the unacceptable number of times Governor Reynolds ignored assessments that the radical privatization of Medicaid, or ReynoldsCare, was failing in Iowa.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that Governor Reynolds took two years to even admit there was a problem with the ReynoldsCare system here in Iowa, and even now, her DHS is refusing to pursue the substantive changes Iowans desperately need,” said Iowa Democratic Party Spokesperson Tess Seger. “This whole ReynoldsCare debacle demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that Governor Reynolds’ priorities do not lie with the people of Iowa.” 

It should be noted that Governor Reynolds, a “full partner” in the Branstad Administration, was clearly well aware of all of the problems below and more and still chose to do nothing:

12/11/2015
WASHINGTON POST: Iowa’s radical privatization of Medicaid is already struggling
 “The transition of Iowa’s $4.2 billion Medicaid program has made the rollout of HealthCare.gov look orderly.”

8/26/2016
MASON CITY GLOBE GAZETTE: Editorial: Branstad’s Medicaid overhaul falling short
“Gov. Terry Branstad’s Medicaid privatization looks to be collapsing under its own weight. Yet, Iowa’s governor can only skewer the messenger.”

12/21/2016
DES MOINES REGISTER: Iowa Medicaid payment shortages are ‘catastrophic,’ private managers tell state
The for-profit companies running Iowa’s Medicaid program have been complaining to state administrators that the controversial project is “drastically underfunded” and that the situation has been a “catastrophic experience,” newly released documents show.

1/4/2017
DES MOINES REGISTER:  Editorial: If Medicaid fixed issues, why are providers still owed money?
“Among [Reynolds’] observations: Iowans with “high-risk behavioral health conditions” are faring better now. “This quarterly report shows progress in modernizing our mental health system,” she said. Then there is reality.”

5/9/2017
DES MOINES REGISTER: Complaints about Iowa’s privatized Medicaid are spiking
State quarterly reports show grievances and appeals filed with the three companies managing Iowa’s Medicaid program have spiked by almost 270 percent — from 343 to 1,268 — in the latest three-month report published in March.

10/7/2017
NPR: Patients, Health Insurers Challenge Iowa’s Effort To Privatize Medicaid
Siegel is one of six disabled Iowans suing the state, alleging that Medicaid managed care, as it is known, deprives thousands of Iowans with disabilities the right to live safely in their homes.

10/31/2017
WHO TV: AmeriHealth Withdrawing from Iowa’s Privatized Medicaid Program
Since the company took over the state Medicaid program last spring, it has complained the program wasn’t properly funded and cost them millions of dollars, despite former Governor Terry Brandstad’s promise a privatized program would save Iowans money.

12/5/2017
DES MOINES REGISTER: Iowa Medicaid recipients mean ‘more than a dollar sign,’ emotional crowd tells state
The private companies are denying critical care, failing to properly notify Medicaid recipients of their basic appeal rights and are often nonresponsive to serious questions, those who spoke from a crowd of more than 200 at Des Moines’ downtown library told state officials.