Montana names Medicaid director with history of privatization

Montana has hired a new Medicaid director who previously oversaw privatized Medicaid programs in Iowa and Kansas, according to Kaiser Health News.

Mike Randol became director of the Montana program May 31, one of only 11 state Medicaid programs that have not been privatized. It serves 280,000 low-income or disabled individuals and has an annual budget of around $2.3 billion, 80 percent of which is federally funded.

Mr. Randol previously led the Medicaid programs in Kansas and Iowa, both of which hired private companies to administer benefits. He became the Medicaid director in Kansas in 2012, and the state privatized Medicaid the following year. 

Iowa hired Mr. Randol in 2017, two years after Iowa switched to a private Medicaid system.

"I'm a firm believer in managed care," Mr. Randol said at a 2019 news conference announcing an 8.6 percent annual increase in rates for the private companies administering Medicaid in Iowa.

A Montana health department spokesperson declined to comment to KHN about whether Mr. Randol plans to privatize the state's Medicaid program.

In the 1990s, Montana did attempt to partially privatize Medicaid mental health benefits with Magellan Behavioral Health, but the state eventually took it back over after Magellan cut provider rates and patients complained.

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