State details plan to use private firms to manage Medicaid in Iowa, predicts cost savings


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DES MOINES, Iowa — A top state official says turning over Iowa's Medicaid program to private operators would save money and improve service, but lawmakers are questioning how the change would impact people in the program.

Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer addressed a legislative committee Wednesday. He says the state is moving forward with a plan to shift the Medicaid program to one or more managed care organizations. That means the state would pay outside companies a fixed amount per enrollee to provide health coverage.

About 550,000 people are enrolled in Iowa's Medicaid program, which is funded with $4.2 billion in state and federal dollars.

Democratic Sen. Joe Bolkcom says lawmakers need to closely monitor the change, noting that he'll hear from constituents if there are changes to quality of care.

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