State official appointed to run Iowa’s Medicaid program

MM Curator summary


Elizabeth Matney was named Iowa Medicaid Directort this week.


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Elizabeth Matney, governor’s health policy adviser, to start role June 1

A health policy adviser for the governor has been appointed as the new director of Iowa Medicaid Enterprises, officials with the state’s Department of Human Services said Friday.

Elizabeth Matney will start her role on June 1, overseeing the state’s $5 billion Medicaid managed-care program that serves more than 700,000 poor and disabled Iowans each year.

Matney currently serves as Gov. Kim Reynolds’ health policy adviser, a position she has held since June 2019.

She was appointed by agency Director Kelly Garcia after a nationwide search. Matney was unanimously selected by the interview committee made up of “key health care system stakeholders,” according to a news release.

Matney’s appointment is not subject to Senate confirmation.

“This is an exciting time for our Medicaid program,” Garcia said in a statement. “I’m thrilled about the vision and expertise (Matney) brings to the program.

“She knows Iowa. She knows our program. She is the right choice. (Matney) will be able to hit the ground running on Day One.”

She also has worked for the Iowa Department of Human Services in a variety of roles with the state’s Medicaid program, including as the Medicaid managed-care director and Medicaid quality assurance director. Matney’s previous work includes experience as a Medicaid direct care provider and at a women’s shelter, according to the announcement.

Matney holds a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Drake University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy from Texas State University.

Nearly 800,000 Iowans are projected to receive health coverage from the state’s Medicaid program in state fiscal year 2021, according to a report from DHS.

Most Medicaid members fall under one of two managed-care organizations — private insurance companies — in the program: Amerigroup and Iowa Total Care. As of the second quarter of the state’s fiscal year 2021, about 720,000 Iowans received their Medicaid benefits from a managed-care organization.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime and this is my passion,” Matney said in the statement. “Medicaid is a large and complex program, full of nuance, rules and regulation. But on the other end of that are people — people who rely on us to be there and meet their needs. I am committed to working with our team and providing the leadership needed to do just that.”

Matney steps into the role after the former director Michael Randol departed in August 2020 to take an unspecified job in the private sector. Deputy Medicaid Director Julie Lovelady has served as the interim director as the search for a replacement was underway.

Randol, who previously led the private Medicaid program in Kansas for five years, had been hired by Reynolds to stabilize Iowa’s Medicaid program that has been plagued with criticism since it was privatized in April 2016.

From early on since the switch to managed care, managed-care organizations have left the state’s program due to what they described as chronic underfunding.

The most recent exit occurred in 2019, when UnitedHealthcare of the River Valley – which carried the majority of members at the time – announced it would withdraw from the program after contract negotiations with the state fell apart.

UnitedHealthcare followed the departure of former managed-care organization AmeriHealth Caritas, which left the state’s Medicaid program in late 2017 after reporting steep financial losses.

Matney’s position at the governor’s office became a focal point in the departure of former Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven, after he alleged he was wrongfully terminated from his position after questioning the legality of using department dollars to fund her salary at the governor’s office.

Her salary was listed as $122,532 for state fiscal year 2019.

Jerry Foxhoven

According to Foxhoven, he was asked to resign in 2019 after he had objected to an agreement in which the human services agency would continue to pay Matney’s salary as she moved into a new role at the governor’s office.

The governor’s office pushed back, saying Foxhoven had never raised concerns about the pay arrangement before offering his resignation.

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