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Iowa Medicaid transition gets go-ahead from federal government

The implementation date would be moved back to April 1

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Iowa’s move to Medicaid managed care was delayed for a second time on Tuesday afternoon when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told the state that it would approve an April 1 start date.

“Although we understand the state’s preference to move forward on March 1, the April 1 effective date provides additional time for Iowa to complete activities,” reads a letter from CMS director Vikki Wachino to Iowa Medicaid director Mikki Stier.

Gov. Terry Branstad announced a plan to move the state’s $5 billion Medicaid program over to out-of-state managed care organizations in early 2015. The governor originally set a start date of Jan. 1, 2016 but CMS delayed the move to March 1, citing 16 readiness problems, including inadequate provider networks and an inefficient communication plan.

Here is our updated story on this news: Iowa Medicaid managed care gets go-ahead from federal government

Here is the release from Governor Branstad's office on the Medicaid approval. 

DES MOINES – Today, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved Iowa’s plan to modernize Medicaid. Iowa and CMS have agreed to an April 1, 2016 implementation date.  The Administration’s letter to CMS can be found here.  In a letter back to the Administration, CMS noted they had seen “significant improvement” and “significantly enhanced” provider networks.  Iowa is moving to a managed care system, as 39 other states and the District of Columbia have done within their Medicaid programs. 

“Our agreement with CMS gives certainty for our patients and our providers. It is time to move forward with a modern and managed Medicaid system. Nationwide, over 40 million Medicaid patients have managed care. Here in Iowa, for more than 20 years, portions of our Medicaid population have received managed care. Now we can work together towards successfully bringing the benefits to all our Medicaid patients.  We’re pleased that CMS has approved Iowa’s plan to provide a better system for Medicaid patients on April 1,” said Branstad.  “Iowa is ready for a new system that provides access through more doctors and will create a more sustainable Medicaid program for taxpayers.”

Lt. Gov. Reynolds concurred saying, “We’re glad to see that CMS saw past the partisan politics and put patients and providers first. The agreement with CMS gives Iowa full federal approval to move forward. We have already begun working on implementing modern managed care for Iowa Medicaid patients beginning April 1. We know that this modernized Medicaid system is the right way to provide a better health system focused on outcomes for Medicaid patients.”

Managed care means better access for patients to doctors.  Iowa’s Medicaid patients and providers will have greater access to a robust provider network.  Through managed care, Iowans’ health care delivery will improve by offering preventive services above and beyond what currently is available, through reducing emergency room visits, hospitalizations and surgeries, and eliminating unnecessary or duplicative services.   

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