UnitedHealthcare abruptly exits Iowa's Medicaid program

UnitedHealthcare will pull out of Iowa's managed Medicaid program, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said March 29.

The change, which will take place in the next few months, will affect more than 425,000 Medicaid recipients in Iowa. Ms. Reynolds said the departure came after Iowa officials ended negotiations with UnitedHealthcare that included terms the governor's office deemed "unreasonable and unsustainable."

"Unfortunately, UnitedHealthcare continued to make additional demands that I found to be unacceptable, including a provision that would remove pay for performance measures that would hold them accountable," according to a news release.

UnitedHealthcare received roughly $2 billion in federal and state funds to help manage Iowa's Medicaid program, according to the Des Moines Register. Its decision to leave comes on the heels of AmeriHealth Caritas' departure in 2017. AmeriHealth Caritas left the program after it lost hundreds of millions of dollars.  

For the time being, UnitedHealthcare members can continue seeing their in-network providers, according to the Des Moines Register.

In a statement to the publication, UnitedHealthcare confirmed its departure, saying, "We are honored to have served Iowans in the IA Health Link plan for the past three years, but persistent funding and program design challenges make it impossible for us to provide the quality care and service we believe people deserve. Therefore, we will no longer be able to participate in the program and will work to ensure a smooth and seamless transition for all of our IA Health Link members."

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