UnityPoint says it may end contract with private Medicaid firm

By Ed Tibbetts, Quad-City Times


UnityPoint Health said Wednesday that it may not renew its contract with Amerigroup of Iowa, one of the two remaining Medicaid managed care organizations in the state.

The decision could affect 54,000 patients.

?We are disappointed that our contract issues with Amerigroup are not yet resolved and know the announcement of a possible change may cause confusion for our Amerigroup patients,? Sabra Rosener, vice president of government and external affairs for UnityPoint, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Even though UnityPoint said it?s still negotiating with Amerigroup and hopes to reach an agreement by the end of the year, Rosener said they wanted to let patients know about the situation so they could think about making changes.

A company spokesperson would not comment further on the issues the two sides are having.

If its contract with Amerigroup isn?t renewed, UnityPoint would no longer be part of the insurer?s provider network beginning Jan. 1. Starting April 1, 2018, UnityPoint said, its hospitals, clinics and home care services would no longer be available to Amerigroup members except for emergency care required by law.

UnityPoint said that it is currently providing care to Amerigroup members as usual and that it will continue with UnitedHealthcare, the other remaining managed care organization in the state.

A spokesman for Amerigroup, Tony Felts, characterized negotiations with UnityPoint as ?productive.?

?We are optimistic that we can come to an agreement that will be beneficial to Medicaid enrollees, the Medicaid program and to the taxpayers of Iowa,? he said.

This is just the latest development in the state?s controversial conversion of its Medicaid program to a managed care model. Former Gov. Terry Branstad initiated the change, which took effect last year.

Since then, insurers have reported significant financial losses, while some health care providers have complained some bills have gone unpaid.

Last month, AmeriHealth Caritas, one of the three private companies that signed on to manage the state?s Medicaid program, announced it was pulling out effective Dec. 1. That is affecting about 215,000 Iowans.