UnityPoint, Amerigroup temporarily extend existing contract

Contract was to end Dec. 31; Organizations say they are working towards long term agreement

UnityPoint Health, which includes Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge, and Amerigroup Iowa announced they have agreed to a short term extension of their existing Medicaid Health Plan contract, which was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2017.

Both parties have negotiated in earnest, and have agreed to extend the original December contract termination date while discussions about the potential of a new contract continue, according to a statement issued by the organizations late Sunday. A final decision is expected to be made by Jan. 12.

“UnityPoint Health understands the frustration not having a decision by the year-end deadline may cause our patients, but believes we will have a decision in early 2018,” said Sabra Rosener, vice president, government and external affairs, UnityPoint Health. “A resolution to our Medicaid managed care agreement with Amerigroup would allow our patients to continue to receive care from their trusted UnityPoint Health providers and facilities.

“UnityPoint Health remains committed to serving Medicaid members and improving the experience, quality and cost of care for Iowans and hopes we will be able to continue to do so in partnership with Amerigroup.”

If the contract ends, patients will have two choices, the organizations said in mid-November. Patients can stay with their UnityPoint Health providers and switch to a different Medicaid managed care organization, or they can stay with Amerigroup Iowa Inc. and seek health care providers that have a contract with that firm.

Sunday’s statement said individuals covered by the Amerigroup Medicaid plan do not need to make any changes to their doctors or health plan to continue their care with UnityPoint Health at this time. Formal notice will be provided to identified Amerigroup patients/members once a decision is reached.

“Amerigroup’s top priority is the health and well-being of our members,” said Cynthia MacDonald, Amerigroup Iowa president. “We are committed to providing members with access to a comprehensive network of health care providers, and we’re pleased that our members can continue to receive care from UnityPoint Health without disruption while we keep working to finalize a new contract.”

About 54,000 people statewide are affected by the potential change. Teresa Thoensen, a spokeswoman for UnityPoint Health, said in November that there is no readily available list that shows how many of those people are in the Fort Dodge area.

Medicaid is the joint federal and state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. In 2016, former Gov. Terry Branstad turned the management of Iowa’s Medicaid program over to three managed care organizations: Amerigroup Iowa Inc., AmeriHealth Caritas and United Health Care Plan of the River Valley Inc.

On Oct. 31, 2017, AmeriHealth Caritas announced it would drop coverage at the end of November because of failed contract negotiations with the state over money. More than 200,000 people enrolled in Iowa’s privatized Medicaid program were switched to new coverage as of Nov. 30, the Associated Press reported.

Iowa’s roughly $4 billion Medicaid program, paid through a combination of state and federal dollars, serves more than 600,000 people.

For more information, Amerigroup members can:

• Visit the UnityPoint Health website for any updates as they become available at www.unitypoint.org/IowaMedicaid.

• Contact Amerigroup Iowa member services at (800) 600-4441.

• Contact Iowa Medicaid Member Services toll-free Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at (800) 338-8366 or (515) 256-4606 in the Des Moines area; or visit dhs.iowa.gov/iahealthlink.