Mental and physical health were the focus of a recent event held at the Merrill Hotel on March 30.
State senator Mark Lofgren, state representative Gary Carlson, Iowa Department of Human Services director Jerry Foxhoven, and Iowa Medicaid director Michael Randol met Friday morning with area leaders in the health industry to discuss topics pertaining to the health industry.
One topic of concern was the sustainability of Medicaid.
Randol stated that there are over 600,000 Iowans on Medicaid, which equates to roughly one in every five citizens. Forty-eight percent of the Iowans in nursing homes are on Medicaid, which generally happens once other sources of funding for their stay have been used up. As the average lifespan in Iowa rises and Muscatine faces its own problems, the sustainability of Medicaid is paramount. The upcoming budget is currently being planned to address this, as legislators came together to boost Medicaid funding.
“This is a perfect example of how legislators in a bipartisan way can change the landscape,” Foxhoven said.
Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) and healthcare providers were also a point of discussion, as the state is looking to add more MCOs to give citizens more choice in what they receive for healthcare. Randol stated that he has been holding the MCOs and providers both accountable for their actions going forward.
A shortage of social workers and mental health providers was explained. The low number of social workers in the state is not for a lack of qualified personnel. Rather, at issue is the lack of adequate budget money. Iowa pays social workers a fair wage and as it currently stands, the budget does not allow for additional hiring.
These, along with several other topics including institutions, crisis stabilization beds, and the ability to publicly access quarterly data, were all discussed at the Merrill Hotel in downtown Muscatine. The local area leaders and these state leaders discussed how these issues impact Muscatine directly and what can be done in the future to make sure that those who need care can receive it.