Ames Reps Heddens, Wessel-Kroeschell Criticize Closed-Door Medicaid Meeting

Ames Democratic state Reps. Lisa Heddens, left, and Beth Wessel-Kroeschell.

Ames’ Democratic state Reps. Lisa Heddens and Beth Wessel-Kroeschell this week criticized a decision by Iowa’s new Medicaid director, Mike Randol, to hold a private meeting today with the agencies handling the heathcare program for poor and disabled Iowans that was recently privatized by former Gov. Terry Branstad.

Heddens and Wessel-Kroeschell joined Democratic state Sens. Liz Mathis of Hiawatha and Amanda Ragan of Mason City to call for the meetings to be public. (Randol previously told them that neither lawmakers nor the public could attend the informal meeting with the private administrative heads.)

“This meeting should be open to the public, because problems with Medicaid affect all Iowa taxpayers, more than 600,000 Medicaid members and healthcare providers across the state,” the four lawmakers said in a statement Wednesday. “Hundreds of hospitals, nursing homes and other Iowa healthcare providers face financial jeopardy because of Medicaid privatization. This issue affects Iowans in every county. If there’s going to be a bipartisan solution to this problem, more — not fewer — Iowans should be at the table for the discussion.”

Randol previously directed the failed privatized Medicaid program in Kansas before leaving last October when he was hired to manage Iowa’s broken system, which since its privatization has cut or eliminated coverage for many at-risk Iowans and is now estimated to save the state 80 percent less than Branstad’s initial estimate.

Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.