Letter to the Editor
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To the editor:
In a recent “Legislative Coffee” State Senator Mark Costello responded to comments regarding the failing privatization of Medicaid as just a political ploy by Democrats. That, in fact, the privatization is a great success. He was wrong on both counts.
It is true Iowa Democrats were, and still are, against the privatization. But, it’s not to gain political points. Instead it’s because privatization has created more problems than it has solved. It is not a “great success”. Here are just a few of the problems that privatization has created.
There have been numerous documented cases of Medicaid patients being denied needed service. The appeal process starts with the insurance provider and has often been denied again with the obvious hope the client will just drop it. Many of the insured aren’t aware of the appeal process going beyond the provider. That is by design. And, during all these appeals service is being denied.
We are only aware of these appeals and denials because patients have come forward to share their stories. The Des Moines Register has reported on several of these. But, this brings up another problem with the privatization—there is little transparency. We, as taxpayers, deserve to know if Iowa citizens are being provided the services they deserve.
But, it’s not just about the patients. The providers of the care often have payments delayed. These delays put a tremendous strain on already tight budgets. In small community hospitals and clinics that can be the difference in survival.
Then, there is the revolving door of the providers. United Health Care just announced they are leaving the state. Until July we have just one provider. In July there will be another but who knows how long it will be before we face the situation again.
At the same legislative coffee, State Representative Dolecheck, stated that remaining in the state managed Medicaid was unsustainable. His claim, which is the standard GOP claim, was providers would submit a claim and Medicaid just automatically paid it. And, this would bankrupt the system. If that was the case, then a simple fix would have been to make some changes—not throw out the system so a private company can rake in huge profits.
When the privatization was first enacted we were told to wait and give it a chance. That wait should be over. If a farmer experimented with a new seed corn and found the yield was substantially lower you can bet there would be a return to a proven product. If a local restaurant added a new menu item but people didn’t care for it, that menu item would be eliminated.
We’ve had instances where companies went back to a proven formula when a change didn’t work out. Coke returned to their original formula. KSIB radio in Creston experimented with talk radio but their public liked the old format better, so they made the intelligent decision to change back. It is time for us to change back to what works.
If, as Representative Dolecheck, stated there is no interest in the Republican party for going back to state managed Medicaid then we need to make changes in who we elect. As a Democrat, it would be a great platform on which to run. But, it shouldn’t have to be. This should be a non-partisan approach. Delays in returning to the former Medicaid program will only hurt clients and providers. Sometimes a government run program makes sense. Like Social Security, Medicaid is one of those.