Medicaid challenges for NE Iowa residents
Wed, 12/20/2017 - 1:39pm admin
Marcie Klomp News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
NOrtheast Iowa - As governmental agencies tighten their belts due to decreased funding, many find the “belt” has turned into a “noose,” strangling them so they cannot aid those who need the most help, such as those on Medicaid (children, aged, blind and disabled).
Although many areas of Medicaid have been under scrutiny in the past few years, one thing that particularly affects local Howard County residents is a change in transportation funding.
According to Curt McNew, Transportation Director, EARL Public Transit, Northeast Iowa Community Action Corp., “Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME, a division of Iowa Department of Human Services – DHS) has approved, as of Dec. 1, 2017, that Intellectually Disabled members receiving Support for Community Living (ID SCL) services will have their transportation paid for by the service providers instead of the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs).”
That means individuals on Medicaid, like Jon Henry, age 50, who has a traumatic brain injury and lives in Cresco, will possibly have to pay out of their own pocket to ride EARL Public Transit to their jobs in Decorah, depending on the financial responsibility each service provider is willing to accept.
Before the change, transportation costs were paid by Medicaid. Now the cost has been transferred to service providers, such as Opportunity Homes and Spectrum. This expense will likely be passed on to Medicaid clients.
Work programs for ID SCL allow individuals to work at jobs and supplement their Medicaid income. It allows them to have something to occupy their time and helps them feel like a valuable part of the workforce. Most times they get paid by the amount of work they produced in a day. This could be as high as minimum wage and much lower on the other end.
It varies, but Mr. Henry works three days a week from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with a half-hour lunch. That is about 16.5 hours per week. From Nov. 4, 2017-Dec. 1, 2017, he netted $191.75 or $2.91 per hour, $16.01 per day and $48.03 per week.
Riding EARL Public Transit costs individuals 50¢ a mile when going out of town. If Mr. Henry would have to pay for his own transportation, he would be paying $20.00 per day. That would put him in the hole $4.00 per day!
Mr. Henry is lucky, though. He lives on his own and does not require 24-hour care. This example will affect individuals in that category. They will no longer be able to work.
McNew explained the change in Medicaid transportation costs, “This ID SCL funding change was announced five weeks before it was to take effect Dec. 1. Due to EARL Public Transit not even knowing which of their riders were ID SCL and the service providers not knowing their funding budgets from IME, EARL Public Transit (and several other Iowa Transit Agencies) decided to absorb the ID SCL transportation costs in December to allow a better contracting process and to ease disruption of clients’ lives. EARL Public Transit will start the contracting process the week of Dec. 18 to be effective Jan. 1.”
McNew predicts that many affected providers will either provide their own limited transportation or shut down these services. “The bottom line is that Northeast Iowa residents will not be able to get to their jobs or to activities that improve their lives and integrate them into their communities.”
He suggests contacting state and federal elected officials with concerns about the potential lack of services to disabled neighbors and friends who don’t seem to have a voice in this issue.
IA State Representative Jane Bloomingdale: 641-390-0837, jane.bloomingdale@ legis.iowa.gov
IA State Senator Waylon Brown: 641-590-0610, Way email@example.com
U.S. Congressman Rod Blum: 202-225-2911, through web site blum.house.gov
U.S. Senator Charles Grassley: 202-224-3744, through web site Grass ley.senate.gov
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst: 202-224-9369, through web site Ernst.senate.gov