Protecting Our Health Care System

As a result of the state’s transition to a privatized Medicaid system on April 1, 2016, county health systems and health care providers face serious challenges.

The three private companies now in charge of Iowa Medicaid have recruited away some of our most talented service providers, such as nurses, social workers and case managers. We must remain competitive with the private sector as an employer to retain those key staff.

Amidst this transition, counties must sustain an ample, steady supply of critical services, such as mental health treatment and care for individuals with developmental disabilities. Workforce shortages, reduced budgets and limitations on the ability to coordinate with private companies will present obstacles to sustain that quality care.

Although proponents of a managed Medicaid system point to the efficiency and consumer-responsiveness of the private sector, patients’ quality of care is at risk. Canceled appointments, privacy breaches and long processing periods comprise some of the most common complaints against these three private companies. It is my hope that this transition to privatized care goes as smoothly as possible, but Linn County must be prepared to help our residents if problems arise.

Together, the three private companies now handle all Medicaid patients in Iowa, which includes 560,000 of our poorest residents. It is our duty as a county to protect these most vulnerable citizens.

Specifically, Linn County must protect funds for agencies that provide mental health and developmental disability services, protect public health and support healthy child development.

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