Despite allegations of improper political influence, Rep. Bobby Kauffman and House Republicans are refusing to investigate Governor Branstad’s rush to privatize Iowa’s $4.8 billion Medicaid program.
“It’s outrageous that Republicans refuse to investigate the Governor’s Medicaid mess. At $4.8 billion, it’s the largest contract in state history and health care for 565,000 Iowans is on the line. We have an obligation to ensure there was not any misconduct or improper influence in awarding these contracts,” said State Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee.
Last month, four members of the House Oversight Committee requested the committee investigate Branstad’s plan to privatize Medicaid at a meeting on November 18th. In an email to members of the Oversight Committee, Republican Chair Bobby Kauffman said he would not investigate the Medicaid contracts saying another committee should do it. He then cancelled the November 18th meeting.
“Republicans are covering for the Branstad administration by refusing to investigate. Did the Branstad administration improperly award billions in contracts to their friends and former GOP lawmakers?” questioned Gaines. “Iowans are upset about this Medicaid mess and deserve to get the answers.”
Rep. Kauffman declined to investigate the Governor’s plan to privatize Medicaid because it was the job of the Health Care Oversight Committee to investigate. However, the Health Care Oversight Committee only has authority over implementation moving forward and Republicans on that committee have already refused to delay the Governor’s Medicaid privatization plan.
At a court hearing in October, emails showed potential improper political influence between Governor Branstad’s Chief of Staff Michael Bousselot and two former Republican lawmakers, Chris Rants and Renee Schulte, who both work for one of the companies that received a contract. The communication came during a no contact period when officials were deciding which private companies would receive state contracts. In addition to the potential corruption, Branstad still can’t provide any proof that privatizing Medicaid will save the state $51 million he claimed earlier this year.