Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced the State of Iowa has received final documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the approval of the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan waivers. The waiver was finalized on Monday, December 30, 2013.
"This bipartisan, innovative plan fits the needs of our state and is yet another example of Iowa leading by offering Iowa-based solutions to complex problems," Branstad said. "Most importantly, the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan will empower Iowans to take control of their own health and improve the health of our state."
More than 65,000 Iowans have applied for coverage under the bi-partisan supported waivers, which include premium contributions. These premiums promote healthy behaviors, without loss of coverage, for Iowa Health and Wellness Plan members beginning at 50 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The Iowa Department of Human Services' (DHS) website and contact center have accepted more than 14,000 applications since October 1, and the state streamlined the enrollment process for about 50,000 Iowans who had been on the IowaCare program and will now receive coverage through the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan.
The State of Iowa worked with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to finalize this modern plan, which will be administered by DHS. Officials anticipate that over the next 3 years, about 150,000 Iowans will sign up for the Iowa Wellness Plan (0-100 percent FPL) and the Marketplace Choice Plan (101-133 percent FPL).
In addition, the waivers will provide mental health and disability services for many Iowans who were not previously eligible. That compliments the work of the state's Mental Health Redesign.
"I'm pleased we have finalized the agreement with the federal government on our unique approach, and we are moving forward with serving Iowans," Reynolds said. "The Iowa Health and Wellness plan has always been built around the belief that healthcare should be focused on making citizens healthier. The plan fits perfectly with our goal to improve Iowans' health and become the healthiest state in the nation."
DHS officials will continue to work with CMS to streamline the enrollment process for Iowans, who have faced some setbacks because of delays at the federal website, HealthCare.gov.
Currently, DHS is encouraging Iowans who applied through HealthCare.gov -- and were told they may be eligible for Medicaid -- that they should reapply through the state website at dhsservices.iowa.gov or by calling 1-855-889-7985. The DHS website and contact center have fielded nearly 4,000 applications since the announcement last Friday.
Applications will be processed based on the date received, so DHS encourages Iowans who applied through HealthCare.gov to reapply through the state as soon as possible. If eligible, Iowans will have coverage the first day of the month in which their application is dated.
"DHS is making every effort to help Iowans get the coverage they qualify for so that we can help improve health outcomes across the state," said DHS Director Charles M. Palmer.