The Des Moines Register reported The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services refusal to approve Iowa’s so-called “supplemental payment plan,” a proposal formalized by lawmakers in 2016 without discussion or debate. The plan was just a sleazy windfall for the nursing home industry in Iowa. Iowa politicians attempted to funnel already scarce Medicaid dollars to privately owned nursing homes that don’t need the money. Over five years, the plan would have provided 410 nursing homes with an estimated $1 billion in additional taxpayer money. These include homes owned and operated by large, out-of-state, for-profit corporations. Many would have seen their revenue from Medicaid doubled.
The law was written entirely by industry lobbyists, according to Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mount Pleasant, the bill’s lead sponsor in the Iowa House. It enables county hospitals to hold the licenses of for-profit, independent nursing homes to create the appearance — on paper at least — that the homes are managed by the hospitals. This hospital “affiliation” would qualify the nursing homes for higher Medicaid payments than they’re currently entitled to collect as independent operators.
For two years, former Gov. Terry Branstad’s privatization of Medicaid has resulted in the loss of care for Iowans and the closing of health facilities. Elected officials at the state and federal level have repeatedly talked about the need to rein in spending on the health insurance program. The last thing public health care dollars should be used for is padding the bottom lines of for-profit nursing homes.