DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) – The debate continues over Iowa’s Medicaid program. A report released by State Auditor Mary Mosiman on Monday says the state has saved about $141-million dollars through the privatization of Medicaid. But State Auditor-elect, Rob Sand, says he’s not so sure.
Medicaid, which helps low-income individuals pay for quality health care, was first privatized in 2016 under Governor Terry Branstad. The Iowa Department of Human Services says there are nearly 680-thousand Iowans, or 22% of the state’s population, on Medicaid.
Branstad at the time estimated Iowa would save millions by having private companies manage the Medicaid system. But the numbers are being called into question.
Newly-elected State Auditor Sand says he’s not convinced after looking at Mosiman’s report, saying the state has failed to produce quarterly reports verifying the big savings.
“Really this audit only looks at the amount of money that we estimate that we saved. They haven’t looked at changes in health care outcomes and that’s actually something that was promised when Medicaid was privatized,” Sand told KWWL.
Sand says the just-released audit failed to look into key factors.
“They said we’re doing this to do three things; improve access, reduce cost and improve outcomes. And this report doesn’t even answer two of the three of those. So we have a lot of work left.”
Sand says he’s also concerned as to where the savings are going as health care providers, like mental health institutes, struggle to keep their doors open.
“Because obviously there have been reports of serious amounts of unpaid bills to medical providers. We’ve seen some rural health facilities, including hospitals.”
In 2015, Branstad predicted privatization would save taxpayers about $232-million dollars annually by 2018. However, the report by Mosiman shows a savings of $141-million. That’s an off-estimate by $91-million dollars.
Sand says this is a cause for concern and demonstrates how rushed the administration was.
“A lot of times, if you move too fast, you miss things like that. And that has been a pretty consistent criticism. In fact, if you remember, the federal government actually told Iowa to slow down its implementation of privatization because they were moving too fast.”
Sand takes office in January. He says this is going to be the first thing he investigates.