Legislators warned private Medicaid managers Tuesday that if they don't improve how they pay bills from service providers, some of those agencies could soon close their doors.
“We’ve got to get to it. We cannot leave people behind here. … It’s going to be make or break for our state,” Sen. Liz Mathis told executives of the three national companies that took control of the state’s $4 billion Medicaid program in April.
Medicaid covers about 560,000 poor or disabled Iowans. Hospitals, nursing homes, mental health agencies and other service providers have been complaining for months that the management companies are failing to pay bills quickly and accurately. The three companies and state human services officials have defended their record and said the situation is easing.
Mathis’ demand for a solution came at the close of a four-hour Senate hearing about the transition to private management of Medicaid. The hearing was before the Human Resources Committee, of which the Robins Democrat is chairwoman.
Several care providers testified that they have had to borrow money to make payroll. The chief executive officer of Des Moines’ Orchard Place mental health program for children said her agency is owed nearly $1 million for services it has provided to Medicaid clients since April. An executive of ABCM, a Hampton company that owns 30 care centers, said his company is short $3 million in such payments. The company has started laying off staff members because of the shortfall, he said.