State board suggests more restrictive medical cannabis limits

Carl Olsen has been a leading advocate for medical cannabis in Iowa for many years and closely follows legislative happenings related to the issue. -promoted by Laura Belin

In a highly unusual move, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on the afternoon of April 12 that the Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board had rescheduled its planned meeting. Instead of convening for two and a half hours on May 3, the board would meet for one hour on April 16.

Members called the shorter, rushed meeting in order to discuss recommendations on the tetrahydracannabinol or THC cap and purchase limits in a bill the Iowa House approved last month.

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An army of misery forced to decamp with UnitedHealthcare's departure

John Morrissey is a longtime Des Moines resident who has investigated state spending increases, financial anomalies, and payment disruptions associated with Medicaid privatization in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

The “he said/she said” controversy between an insurance company CEO and Iowa’s governor about why UnitedHealthcare decided to leave the state’s Medicaid program might make entertaining copy, but it doesn’t address who is going to manage the care of 420,000 Iowans left in the lurch.

Nor does it address whether the remaining company (Amerigroup) is adequately prepared to handle more members, and whether a new player poised to enter our state’s Medicaid market (Iowa Total Care) has the expertise to handle special populations in Iowa such as the elderly, disabled, and very ill.

It also doesn’t consider whether the state’s traditional fee-for-service Medicaid offering has the financial wherewithal to shoulder an even larger share of the enrollment and cost. Fee-for-service was held over from the old state-run program when most of the Medicaid program was privatized in 2016. The fee-for-service program pays the claims of Iowa’s sickest and most frail Medicaid members, which the for-profit managed care organizations (MCOs) don’t want or can’t handle.

The Iowa Deparment of Human Services (DHS) did not respond to a request for comment on these issues.

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Laughable spin casts Reynolds as hero of latest Medicaid fiasco

When a government press release arrives at 4:45 pm on a Friday, you know it’s not bearing good news. UnitedHealthcare will soon pull out of Iowa’s Medicaid program, the governor’s office announced on March 29. The company “manages health care for more than two-thirds of Iowans on Medicaid,” at least 425,000 people, Tony Leys reported for the Des Moines Register.

The official spin portrayed Governor Kim Reynolds as a hero who resisted a for-profit insurer’s “unreasonable” and “unacceptable” demands.

The real story is that nearly three years into our costly Medicaid privatization experiment, Iowa’s dominant managed-care organization (MCO) still can’t handle normal business practices like paying health care providers on time.

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Political bandwidth

Paul Deaton: “It’s easy to say we should balance our politics and policy. I’m not sure about that. A better approach is to recognize there is political bandwidth and tune in.” -promoted by Laura Belin

The 2020 general election will be challenging for a lot of reasons, not the least of which for me is deciding whether policy or politics is the most important part of it.

Politics is the art of what’s possible. I’m over the naive notion that policy matters more than politics, although the art of what’s possible has produced some problems.

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Bill targeting Iowans on public assistance would cost $40 million by 2021

Matt Chapman has closely followed this year’s legislative proposals targeting Iowans on public assistance. -promoted by Laura Belin

A bill requiring more frequent reviews of Iowans’ eligibility for public assistance programs would cost the state an additional $40 million during the first two years alone, according to analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. The federal government would be on the hook for an additional $35 million during the same period.

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Dark money lobbying Iowa legislature on solar bill

A new dark money group is threatening clean energy progress in Iowa. Mark Langgin digs into the social media advertising campaign that emerged a few days ago. -promoted by Laura Belin

Looks like the utilities and electric cooperatives are up to no good. A new “dark money” organization just launched ads on Facebook.

The “REAL” Coalition began advertising on Facebook on March 1, arguing for legislation that would undermine net metering. The REAL Coalition is doing this under the guise of promoting renewable and clean energy.

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