Privatization of the state’s Medicaid program has become a top issue in Statehouse campaigns this fall, especially in the race for governor. And at the center of that debate is the question of whether the switch to private managed care is saving money, as predicted by the Branstad-Rey-nolds administration, or actually is costing Iowa more.
Savings estimates coming from Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration have been a moving target. Recent numbers show a significant increase in per-patient costs. Officials in charge of the program have been unable to provide clarity.
Over the summer, Democratic lawmakers asked State Auditor Mary Mosiman’s office to take a look at the program’s finances with hopes of untangling the truth. Mosiman, a Republican, agreed.
But in recent days, Mosiman has said she’s uncertain whether that audit can be completed by Election Day. It might be, but maybe not. She contends expediting the audit could be seen as political and could affect other statutorily required work done by her office.
We appreciate the auditor’s caution and commitment to statutory duties. We also know her office’s Medicaid audit will be viewed through partisan lenses no matter what it finds.
But it’s also true the audit could provide critical information to Iowa voters as they make a series of important choices this fall. We believe they deserve to have a clearer picture.
Medicaid is a state program serving 680,000 Iowans. Surely most Iowans would agree analyzing the financial performance of such a far-reaching state program should be a top priority, especially now. It seems likely such an analysis could be completed soon, without hampering other duties in an office that routinely handles a wide array of audits and investigations.
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And although a finished audit clearly will become a political football, the absence of such a report also will leave a gap filled by partisan accusations.
Political considerations aside, Iowans need to see the numbers. The audit, which Mosiman has said will provide “financial clarity,” should be expedited and released before the election.
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