Legislative Republicans call for IowaCare Hearing

Rep. Heaton

Two leading Republicans called on the legislative committee charged with overseeing Medicaid and the IowaCare program to meet for the first time in 26 months to discuss a recent report raising troubling issues over one of the state’s health care programs for lower income Iowans.

State Senator David Johnson(R-Ocheyedan) and State Representative David Heaton (R-Mount Pleasant), the ranking members of the Joint Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, wrote to the members of the Medical Assistance Projections and Assessment Council (MAPAC) calling for a meeting of the group on April 29 to discuss a state report critical of the administration of IowaCare.

Last Friday, State Auditor David Vaudt released a performance report on IowaCare. IowaCare is the state’s health care program for adults who are not eligible for Medicaid but whose income does not allow them to buy insurance. Created in 2005, IowaCare is now providing health care services to over 36,000 Iowans at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.

Vaudt’s report found a number of issues with the way the Iowa Department of Human Services administers the program, including the Department’s failure to verify information people put on their application. By not implementing a verification system, DHS has allowed ineligible people to sign up for the program and get services.

“The Auditor’s report validated the reports we had been hearing from Iowa City that people not eligible were getting on to IowaCare, including people from Illinois,” said Johnson. “For the people of Northwest Iowa, that is especially troubling since IowaCare is not an option for many in this part of the state. To see their tax dollars used for people not eligible for IowaCare raises serious questions about the management of the program.”

Vaudt’s report also highlighted the fact that the Department had simply ignored a number of program requirements that the Legislature had enacted into law. Among the requirements not completed was the development of health savings accounts for IowaCare participants and designing a plan were IowaCare enrollees would get a subsidized insurance plan, much like the HAWK-I program for children.

“I was involved in the writing of the IowaCare law, and the ideas put into that bill were there to explore new options for health care,” said Heaton. “DHS was supposed to try these ideas out. Instead, they simply chose not to do them. It is very disappointing and troubling that they chose to ignore the law.”

The legislators said the Auditor’s report demanded legislative review.