Eggs and Issues - Ken Rozenboom

Angie Holland/The Herald

Sen. Ken Rozenboom speaks during Eggs and Issues.

OSKALOOSA — The issue of Medicare privatization was, as ever, on the minds of Eggs and Issues attendees.

At the final Eggs and Issues of the year, area legislators Sen. Ken Rozenboom, Rep. Dustin Hite and Rep. Holly Brink responded to questions from constituents.

Local attorney Eric Palmer brought up the issue of privatized Medicare.

"I think it's an understatement to say it's been a failure," he said. "Two weeks ago, we had our local hospital administrator here and I asked him about Medicaid privatization, how's it going, he said 'we're not getting paid' from the private organizations."

Palmer asked the legislators what is being done to make sure hospitals get paid.

"And are we going to finally admit it's time to go back to the state running this program," he asked.

Rozenboom said the privatization process rollout was disastrous.

"It was bad. A lot like Obamacare was. And somewhat, by the way, predicated by Obamacare," he said. "Now to your point, though, Medicaid delivery system in Iowa is a $4 billion project. We know there are complaints. We know there are issues with payment. Insurance companies have the same issues at times. There's a lot of machinery involved in administering the $4 billion system."

Most of those roll-out difficulties have been cleared out, Rozenboom said, and most claims are being paid on a timely basis.

"There's always the outliers, and there's examples of that, I know there are," he said. "But the system is working a lot better than some people would have us believe."

Brink said it's too early in the session to explain every single detail, however, she mentioned a process to funnel more money into rural critical access hospitals, such as Mahaska Health Partnership.

"So we do have things in place that are working on that," she said. "It's also a little early in the session to tell you every single detail that we are working on, because we can't guarantee what's going to come off the House floor yet."

A community member asked about a bill that was defeated that would have required Managed Care Organizations to pay their bill within a year.

Rozenboom said it was not actually a bill, but rather an amendment to another bill.

"It was defeated because it was a political ploy, pure and simple," he said. "It gave some people some things to talk about. It was unworkable, unenforceable and it was a political ploy. Those things happen up there."

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