KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Courtroom Clash: Health Care Companies, Iowa Officials Spar Over State’s Medicaid Privatization Plan

Thursday's courtroom action centered on Gov. Terry Branstad's plan to privatize Iowa's $4.2 billion Medicaid program. Also, Democratic state legislators are pushing to ensure that accountability is part of the effort to shift the program's management to private companies. One report estimates that oversight could cost as much as $17 million.

Des Moines Register: Court Arguments: Iowa’s Medicaid Plan A 'Cancer'
Three companies on Thursday asked a judge to suspend or terminate Iowa’s plan to privatize Medicaid management, one saying Gov. Terry Branstad’s plan is so ill-conceived it should be treated like a "cancer." The comments came in response to revelations that WellCare, one of three companies selected to manage Iowa's $4.2 billion Medicaid program, hired former House Speaker Christopher Rants and former Rep. Renee Schulte to help them win the contract. (Clayworth, 1/14)

Iowa Public Radio: Aetna, WellCare and DHS Spar Over Medicaid Implementation Progress
About 20 lawyers representing six healthcare companies and the state of Iowa crowded into a small Polk County courtroom Thursday. All want Judge Robert Blink to issue or reject various stays, or orders, relating to the upcoming privatization of Iowa's $4.2 billion Medicaid system. All also argued a ruling in their favor prioritizes the healthcare of Iowa's 560,000 Medicaid recipients. (Borden, 1/14)

Des Moines Register: Iowa Democratic Legislators Seek Medicaid Safeguards
Iowa Democratic legislators say they want to ensure that accountability and safeguards are part of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad's plan to shift the management of the state's Medicaid program to private companies. Senate President Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, told reporters Thursday protections are needed because Medicaid health insurance provides a safety net for the most vulnerable Iowans facing severe medical challenges. (Petroski, 1/14)

Des Moines Register: Report: Iowa Medicaid Oversight To Cost $17 Million
Iowa would need to hire 134 additional workers and spend as much as $17 million more a year to properly expand ombudsman oversight of Gov. Terry Branstad’s plan to privatize Iowa’s Medicaid management, a new multi-agency workgroup report shows. The report mandated by the Legislature includes several key findings behind the privatization plan that has already been delayed once by federal officials because of the state’s unpreparedness. (Clayworth, 1/14)

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