Gov. Terry Branstad has highlighted extra benefits under Iowa’s new Medicaid program to show the privatized system functions better than the former state-run setup, but the agency overseeing Medicaid acknowledges it knows little about how the so-called value-added services are actually working for patients. That lack of detail hasn’t stopped Branstad from using the perks — such as waived gym membership fees, prenatal services and free cellphones — to help sell in public remarks and press releases the pros of Medicaid under private management.

“These are exactly the type of additional services that are going to make lasting, meaningful impact on improving the health of Medicaid patients,” Branstad told reporters in April. More than six months later, the state is collecting little data about how many people have used the value-added services and no information about whether the services are effective. The Iowa Department of Human Services, which oversees the three private …
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DHS not tracking extra Medicaid benefits praised by Branstad