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Iowan details personal experience with Iowa's privatized Medicaid system after audit released

A state audit released on Wednesday found a massive increase in illegal denials of care under privatized Medicaid.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Kurt Yeoman is a veteran, a special education teacher, and a Medicaid recipient in Iowa. 

Yeoman is also one of the several Iowans with stories included in the state audit released Wednesday. 

The report finds that Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system has illegally denied services or care to program recipients, and both private insurance companies managing the system have violated terms of their contracts with the state.

Yeoman has personal experience in Iowa's managed care system. He needs a wheelchair to get around, as well as in-home care in the morning to get ready for work.

Getting help inside his home has been a headache through the private companies. Yeoman's care is managed through Amerigroup, one of two companies contracted with the state to provide Medicaid services.

"The health care company dropped me, saying that they did not have staffing in my area," said Yeoman. "Basically, I found my own staff."

Amerigroup didn't provide much help to get a nurse inside Yeoman's home after there were issues last year. He said he called 30 to 50 different companies to get staff members to come inside his home and take care of him.

"I am supposed to have nurses, and the staff that I have right now, they're not qualified as nurses, so I had to teach them on my own my whole routine," said Yeoman.

At one point during the process to get an at-home nurse through Amerigroup, Yeoman was assisted by one nurse to get out of bed in the morning, only to be sent to the hospital for other routine care, and then go back home to complete the rest of his day. 

Going to the hospital for routine care costs more money, said Yeoman.

"If I had home health care, it was like $54 a day compared to I think $150 a day," said Yeoman. 

Yeoman said the experience of dealing with managed care companies causes him anxiety.

"You don't know whether or not you're going to be able to get up in the morning, and be able to go by your day," said Yeoman. "It's just the stress that's involved with it is overwhelming."

Yeoman's message to managed care companies in Iowa is simple: show compassion for people instead of pushing for profits.

"Because if you really look at the bottom dollar, it is cheaper to keep us in our homes and help us out in that way instead of kind of brushing it off to the side in order to make money," said Yeoman. "Ever since it was privatized, I mean, things have gone downhill."

In the report from his investigation, Auditor Rob Sand examined a six-year period from 2013 through 2019. 

He says his investigators found a massive increase in illegal denials of care under privatized Medicaid.

Iowa Medicaid Director Elizabeth Matney rejected the report's conclusions, arguing Sand was making an “apples to oranges comparison” that mischaracterized the current program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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