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Gov. says no delay needed for Medicaid privatization


Gov. says no delay needed for Medicaid privatization

DES MOINES (AP) — There is no reason to delay plans to shift Iowa's Medicaid operation to private management, even though a judge has recommended that the state throw out one of four contracts awarded to companies to run the program, Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday.

Administrative Law Judge Christie Scase recommended last week that Iowa reverse its contract with Florida-based WellCare. Branstad said a final decision has not been made on how to proceed, but that the state could continue with three companies if necessary.

'The initial idea was we would have from two to four (companies). So if the administrative law judge's preliminary recommendation is the one adopted, we can move forward with the three,' Branstad said.

Branstad stressed that Iowa Department of Administrative Services Director Janet Phipps will review the judge's decision. He did not offer a time frame for when she would decide.

Iowa is set to shift the $4.2 billion Medicaid program to private management starting Jan. 1, though the plan still needs federal approval.

Roughly 560,000 people in Iowa are enrolled in Medicaid, which provides care to poor children, families and disabled people, as well as some low-income adults. It is funded with state and federal dollars.

The plan to switch to private managers has been challenged by some Democratic lawmakers who argue the state isn't ready. Branstad says the move will save money and offer better patient care.

Scase's ruling said WellCare should have disclosed information early to state officials about fraud or mismanagement involving former executives. WellCare officials have said the company will challenge the ruling.

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