Why do we have Medicaid? It’s a simple question with a simple answer. We have Medicaid because if we don’t, there are millions of Americans, and nearly 600,000 Iowans, who will not be able to get health care. Private industry will not provide it.
Why, we must ask, would we turn over to private industry a critical part of our public safety net to business interests that operate with a principal purpose of making money?
How do we assure that services are provided, that our responsibilities are met, if the people running the operation are not answerable to us?
As the legislative Health Policy Oversight Committee meets today about the Governor’s privatization edict on Medicaid, we need to remind ourselves of these basic questions.
When the Governor cannot detail the purported savings and our common sense tells us otherwise, we need an assurance that data will be available — and publicly available — to monitor what is happening with a service that has been accountable and efficient in expanding health-care access to Iowans who need it. We need to know Iowa is not setting itself to repeat problems that have been demonstrated in other states.
What will pass for public oversight after we’ve turned over the keys to private industry?
Over three dozen people and organizations filed comments (available here) with the oversight committee for today’s meeting at the Statehouse. Many have a firsthand understanding of the purpose and practice of Medicaid as we know it, and serious questions of their own about the uncertain world where the Governor is taking us, on his own.
Clearly, many fundamental questions have not been fully vetted through the legislative process, nor given a hearing before the decision was made within the Governor’s Office.
How we assure health care access to low-income Iowans needs to be the central issue here, not an afterthought.