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University of Iowa News Release

July 8, 2004

Medicaid Hearings Open To Public In Six Iowa Cities

University of Iowa President David Skorton will chair public hearings conducted by the Medical Assistance Crisis Intervention Team in six Iowa cities, beginning July 15 in Ottumwa. Other hearings will be held Aug. 2 in Sioux City, Sept. 10 in Dubuque, Sept. 29 in Mason City, Oct. 26 in Red Oak and Nov. 19 in Des Moines.

The July 15 meeting will be held in the first floor conference room of the Ottumwa Regional Health Center, 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. Public comment is tentatively planned from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2 to 3 p.m.

The Medical Assistance Crisis Intervention Team (MACIT) was created by legislation approved earlier this year by the Iowa General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Tom Vilsack because of the escalating cost of the Medicaid program in the face of constrained state revenues.

Medicaid is a program that pays for medical assistance for individuals and families with low incomes and resources. The program became law in 1965 and is jointly funded by the federal and state governments to assist states in providing medical and long-term care assistance to people who meet certain eligibility criteria. Medicaid is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with limited income. In fiscal year 2004-05, Medicaid expenditures in Iowa are expected to be nearly $2 billion, of which $568 million will come from the state. The federal government will fund the remainder in the current fiscal year, but changes are being contemplated for the level of federal funding that will be provided in the future. These changes include possible elimination of the use of intergovernmental transfers that allow states to leverage additional federal dollars.

After gathering information and public opinion about the medical assistance program, by Dec. 1, MACIT will submit a report to the General Assembly that includes projections of costs for the Medicaid program through June 30, 2008. The initial source of these projections will be the Iowa Department of Human Services. MACIT may also provide recommendations on services, eligibility, rates, care management and program administration.

"The Medical Assistance Program plays a vital role in protecting the most vulnerable Iowans and making sure that all Iowans have access to quality health care," said Gov. Vilsack. "With the current federal government stance on eliminating intergovernmental transfers in the Medical Assistance Program, the work of the team is all the more critical, and I have directed them to examine options with and without the continuance of intergovernmental transfers as they conduct their work."

Representative Danny Carroll (R-Grinnell) noted that the Medicaid program "represents a delicate balance between those Iowans who are enrolled in the program, our provider community that serves them, and the taxpayers who pay for the services.

"As Iowa's population changes, the demands on our state's Medicaid program will be even greater than they are today," Carroll added. "That is why the Legislature created the Crisis Intervention Team to look at the future of Medicaid and identify innovative approaches to maintaining this balance via program efficiencies and creative alternatives. We are very happy that Dr. Skorton and the team he has assembled are willing to take on this important task."

During the meetings there will be a discussion of issues affecting Iowa's Medicaid program as well as time for the team to receive public comment. Drop boxes will be provided at each meeting location for individuals who do not wish to speak publicly or who want to comment anonymously. In addition, comments may be e-mailed to or mailed to: Medicaid Public Comment, 105 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242.

"I hope that anyone who has an idea about the future of Medicaid will take the opportunity to come to one of the meetings or provide their comments via e-mail or regular mail," UI President Skorton said. "This is a problem that affects every Iowan, so we need Iowans' help in crafting the appropriate responses."

Skorton, a cardiologist, is co-founder and co-director of the UI Adolescent and Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinic at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Other members of the Medical Assistance Crisis Intervention Team and their alternates are:

--Dana Holland, Ottumwa, president of the Iowa Health Care Association. Alternate: Steve Ackerson, West Des Moines, IHCA executive director.
--Thomas (TJ) Johnsrud, Conrad, past president of the Iowa Pharmacy Association. Alternate: Cheryl Clark, Des Moines, IPA senior vice president for Advanced Practice Development.
--Jerry Karbeling, Des Moines, chair of the Medical Assistance Advisory Council. Alternate: Mark Peltan, Mason City, MAAC co-chair.
--Donna Katen-Bahensky, Iowa City, director and CEO of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
--C. James Platt, Fort Madison, chair of the Iowa Hospital Association. Alternate: J. Kirk Norris, Des Moines, IHA president.
--Stephen Richards, D.O., Algona, president-elect of the Iowa Medical Society. Alternate: Charles Helms, M.D., Iowa City, IMS president.
--Debbie Spencer, Des Moines, Positive Alternatives To Hospitalization (PATH) Program, Broadlawns Medical Center.
--Craig Syata, Urbandale, executive director of the Iowa Association of Community Providers. Alternate: Bob Hebl, Hiawatha, IACP president.
--Mike Teachout, West Des Moines, member of the Federation of Iowa Insurers. Alternate: Bob Wilcox, Bettendorf, member of the FII.

STORY SOURCE: University Relations, 101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

CONTACTS: Media: Steve Parrott, University of Iowa, 319-335-0552,; Program: Laurie Schooley, Ottumwa Regional Health Center, 641-684-3122