Iowa made the decision to overhaul its previous Medicaid program and split the providers into three separate private companies: UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley, Amerigroup Iowa, and AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa. The overall name for this new managed program is Iowa Health Link and the purpose for this change is said to be to provide better access and quality of health care, create a more predictable Medicaid budget, and provide accountability for payment outcomes. While it remains to be seen whether these benefits will actually occur, the immediate effects of this change are creating confusion for members and care providers. Iowa DHS has produced documents to provide clarification for members, but questions remain. For example, the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) that now facilitate the medical care have certain networks of providers so the members have to be sure to choose the MCO that covers their current providers, or choose to switch providers. MCOs are supposed to do what they can to help members stay with their providers, but the outcome of this is unclear so far and it is likely that members may not understand the change and may end up being unable to remain with their preferred provider without significant effort to change the MCO provider.
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