A possible decision by year’s end

Some UnityPoint patients in Central Iowa could be impacted if Amerigroup contract expires

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For UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown patients who get Medicaid coverage through the private managed care organization (MCO) Amerigroup Iowa Inc., major changes could be coming in the next several weeks and months.

“At this time, we can speak to specific terms … UnityPoint Health has worked with the State of Iowa and we originally did sign with all three MCOs,” said UnityPoint Health media specialist Teresa Thoensen of ongoing contract negotiations with Amerigroup. “Unfortunately, despite our continued efforts to act on those agreed partnerships, we’re still just having some issues with the overall system and just having some issues with specific partnerships.”

Along with the Marshalltown location, UnityPoint operates several clinics and care facilities in Central Iowa. Communities like State Center, Conrad and Tama-Toledo also have UnityPoint locations.

This week, about 54,000 UnityPoint patients across the state were sent letters regarding the possible break with Amerigroup. The current contract between the MCO and UnityPoint expires on Dec. 31.

“We did send out a patient notification to all of those that we identified as our Amerigroup patients,” Thoensen said of the letters, adding “Even if a decision is made and UnityPoint Health will not be in the Amerigroup network, patients will still have between Jan. 1 and March 31 (of 2018) to make a choice, if they would like to.”

She said patients covered under an Amerigroup Medicaid plan will have options if a contract agreement cannot be reached by year’s end.

“Right now, it’s important for patients to know that they can continue to receive their care as normal through the end of the year,” Thoensen said, adding patients searching for more information can visit https://www.unitypoint.org/iowa-medicaid-changes.aspx.

If the contract does expire, the webpage lays out three main options for UnityPoint patients currently under an Amerigroup plan.

For instance, patients would be able to switch health care providers if they prefer to stay with Amerigroup, or they could switch MCOs to stay with UnityPoint. With the exit of AmeriHealth Caritas announced earlier this month, the only remaining MCO option for UnityPoint patients would be UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley, Inc.

“That website and the letter really have some good information in terms of what the potential termination would mean and what [patients] need to know now, as they consider their options,” Thoensen said.

For more information on the state’s managed care system, contact Iowa Medicaid Member Services at 1-800-338-8366.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com