Medicaid is supposed to ensure our most vulnerable citizens – our friends, family and neighbors – have access to the health care they need. That hasn’t happened in Iowa since the Branstad/Reynolds Administration decided to have out-of-state, for-profit companies run our Medicaid system.

We’re now watching Iowa’s health care system fall apart. That’s why I signed a letter asking for a bipartisan solution to end Iowa’s failed Medicaid privatization experiment.

For the past 20 months, frantic Iowans of all ages have contacted lawmakers with real problems caused by the chaos, confusion and incompetence of privatized Medicaid. It’s been nothing but trouble for almost everyone concerned:

Iowans aren’t getting healthier. In fact, some have died because the services and care they needed were cut off.

Hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers face financial hardship because they aren’t getting reimbursed for the care they provide to patients.

Costs to taxpayers are going up, as the state forks over more and more money to private, out-of-state companies.

Three of the four companies initially hired to run Iowa Medicaid have quit, causing repeated upheaval to the health care of our very poor elderly and severely disabled Iowans.

Why do we continue down this failed path? Other states have seen fit to turn back. When Connecticut realized its privatized Medicaid was not working, state leaders decided to return to a publicly managed system. Connecticut is now getting much better results. They are saving money and improving care.

We should do the same for Iowans.

If you’d like to follow our ongoing efforts to fix Iowa’s Medicaid problems, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/democrats/medicaid, where can subscribe to periodic updates on the topic.

Rita Hart represents Clinton County and northern Scott County in the Iowa Senate. To contact Sen. Hart when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at (515) 281-5933. Otherwise, she can be reached at (563) 210-1252. E-mail her at rita.hart@legis.iowa.gov.