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Medicaid patient says she was forced to wait six weeks for catheters

News

August 29th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Some of Iowa’s Medicaid patients and the professionals who serve them testified this (Monday) morning during a two-hour “listening post” at the statehouse, organized by Democratic legislators. Health care providers complained about late payments and confusion in dealing with the three out-of-state companies that now review and either approve or deny all claims. Medicaid patient Michelle Meadors, of Des Moines, was the final person to testify. She was in a serious car accident five years ago and now is wheelchair-bound.

“I’m here because I was optimistic about this managed care organization because I thought, ‘This is my chance to manage my health care,’ which is what I wanted to do in the first place,” Meadors told lawmakers. “Well, it’s far from being managed. It’s far from being manageable.” Meadors says she was forced to wait six weeks for the catheter tubes she needs. “Now tell me, with everybody that’s in here complaining and whining…because they’re not being paid, that directly affects someone like me,” Meadors says. “So I don’t care what it takes to get it fixed, but we need to stop and get it fixed.”

In addition to Democrats, one Republican legislator and the legislature’s lone independent attended today’s (Monday’s) statehouse hearing. Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, says 70 percent of Medicaid spending for disabled Iowans like Meadors and for very poor elderly citizens, many of whom are in Iowa nursing homes. “Unfortunately, problems persist. The problems are serious and the problems are systematic,” Ragan says. “Iowa families, health care providers and communities are suffering from late payments, burdensome paperwork, red tape and unforeseen changes in the three managed care organizations. Iowa’s Medicaid mess is everyone’s problem.”

Derek Laney is the C-E-O of Iowa Focus, an agency with offices in Council Bluffs and Creston that provides services to Iowans with mental illness or who’ve suffered brain injuries. Laney says he “appreciates” the effort by the managed care organizations to control costs. “But I also have direct experience with what isn’t working,” Laney says. “…Authorizations must be processed timely…and all the (managed care organizations) must acknowledge the billing and payment problems that exist.”

One business owner with 70 employees said he had to hire another full-time worker just to file claims for Medicaid patients who are being fitted with prosthetics. His company may soon decide to stop serving Medicaid patients because of the hassle with unpaid claims.

A representative for one of the insurance companies overseeing Iowa’s newly privatized Medicaid program says it has lost money during the system’s implementation. Kim Foltz, CEO for UnitedHealthcare’s Iowa operations, cited information in a new quarterly report in telling a legislative oversight committee on Monday at the Iowa Capitol that the company has lost money. She later declined to provide specific information on a dollar figure.

The confirmation means all three insurance companies that run Iowa’s health care program for more than 500,000 poor and disabled residents have lost money in the initial months of implementation. AmeriHealth Caritas and Amerigroup, the other companies, filed reports recently showing losses in the tens of millions of dollars in the first six months. UnitedHealthcare did not break down those costs in its filing.

(Radio Iowa/A-P)

Iowa crops progressing ahead of schedule

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 29th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowa’s corn and soybean crops, on average, are ahead of their normal stages of growth. The USDA’s latest crop conditions report (issued today/Monday) states above normal rainfall last week left Iowa farmers with just over four days that were suitable for field work. Record flooding occurred in portions of northeast Iowa as more than eight inches of rain fell in a 24 hour period in a few locations.

The report places 83 percent of the state’s corn and 82 percent of soybeans in good to excellent condition. Ninety-four percent of the corn crop has reached the dough stage, which is eight days ahead of the five year average. Soybeans setting pods reached 96 percent, or about four days ahead of the five year average.

The report notes heavy rain and winds last week damaged some Iowa crops, while sudden death and white mold are causing problems in some soybean fields.

(Radio Iowa)

More Iowa counties planning to boost minimum wage

News

August 29th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Nearly a year after Johnson County became the first in Iowa to raise their minimum wage above the federal standard of $7.25 an hour, more Iowa counties are now planning to do the same. In Wapello County, the three member County Board of Supervisors intends to raise the minimum wage in stages, eventually reaching a minimum wage of $10.10 in January of 2019. The proposal is to raise the minimum wage by 95 cents each January until reaching $10.10. The wage would be adjusted each July thereafter to account for any increases in the Consumer Price Index for the Midwest Region as published by the US Department of Labor.

Community reaction has been mixed, with many speaking out both in favor and opposed to the ordinance. The proposed ordinance has already passed two public hearings. The supervisors will hold one final public hearing in the coming weeks.

The Polk County board of Supervisors is expected to draft a new minimum wage ordinance in October. In Cedar Rapids, the Linn County Supervisors could pass a similar ordinance as soon as September 12.

(Radio Iowa)

Villisca man arrested for Violation of Probation

News

August 29th, 2016 by Chris Parks

The Red Oak Police Department reports the arrest of a Villisca man on Monday for Violation of Probation.  At 1:00pm officers arrested 29-year-old Jessie Bruce Fitzwater in the 100 block of West Coolbaugh Street in Red Oak.  He was taken to the Montgomery County Jail and held on $10,000 cash only bond.

Iowa approves health insurance rate hikes for 4 companies

News

August 29th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s health insurance regulator has approved premium rate increases for four companies ranging from 43 percent to 19 percent. Documents released Monday by Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart say more than 75,200 Iowans will pay more beginning Jan. 1st. The biggest increase of 42.6 percent affects 22,000 customers of Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

About 7,700 policyholders of Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa will see an increase of 37.8 percent if they joined after the federal Affordable Care Act was passed. Another group of 2,300 enrolled prior to the law will see a 42.6 percent increase. The commissioner also approved a 23 percent increase for 42,000 Aetna Health of Iowa policyholders.

Increases of 19 percent for Medica Insurance Co. and 19.8 percent for Gunderson Health Plan also were approved.

Branstad says state patrol could deal with pipeline protests

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 29th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

PELLA, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad says he’ll authorize the Iowa State Patrol to deal with protesters who could try to stop construction of a $3.8 billion oil pipeline. The Des Moines Register reports Branstad told reporters at his weekly news conference, held this Monday in Pella, that the state patrol would ensure the safety of those building the pipeline, and that could helping local law enforcement respond to protests. The Iowa Utilities Board has approved construction of the pipeline, which will run 1,172 miles through Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The route will cut through 18 Iowa counties. Pipeline opponents have promised to engage in civil disobedience to stop the construction, but Branstad says they should accept the board’s approval of the project and not break the law.

Agency proposes fining Adventureland over safety issue

News

August 29th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

ALTOONA, Iowa (AP) – An Iowa agency has proposed fining Adventureland park after an investigation prompted by the June death of a worker at the theme park. Officials have said Steve Booher was fatally injured June 7 when the Raging River ride started unexpectedly as he was helping people off.

The Des Moines Register reports that the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the Altoona park $4,500. The park has 15 days to contest the agency’s findings.  A day after the accident state inspectors reported finding found no safety defects. But after a lengthy investigation, Iowa OSHA determined that Adventureland should install devices to ensure that ride assistants are positioned safely before ride operators let the boats advance.

Boil Advisory in Villisca until Thursday

News

August 29th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the City of Villisca have ordered a Boil Water Advisory for residents of the community until Thursday, or until notified otherwise. The City says the advisory was issued due to a pump failure.  Residents should boil water used for consumption, brushing teeth, making ice or cooking. Or, you may use bottled water for those purposes.

(12-p.m. News)

2 injured in Audubon County accident, Sunday morning

News

August 29th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Two people were injured and the driver of a vehicle cited, following a rollover accident Sunday morning, in Audubon County. The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office says the driver of a 1981 Chevy, 19-year old William Roland Brubaker, and his passenger, 16-year old Andrea Stevens, both of Audubon, were transported by Audubon Rescue to the Audubon County Hospital.

Officials say their vehicle was traveling westbound on 200th Street at around 11-a.m., Sunday, when it went out of control as it approached the crest of a hill about two-miles west of Audubon. The vehicle slid into a ditch and struck an embankment before rolling over and coming to rest on the passenger side. Damage was estimated at $2,000.

Brubaker was cited for Failure to Maintain Control.

(12-p.m. News)

Boil Order for northern Guthrie County town

News

August 29th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

City officials in the Guthrie County community of Jamaica have issued a Boil Order, following electrical issues with water well switches on the City’s water tower. The issue was expected to be resolved soon and the Boil Order lifted by Wednesday. In the meantime, residents in Jamaica should boil water used for for drinking, brushing teeth, making ice or cooking. Or, you may use bottled water for those purposes until the Boil Order is lifted.