Cedar Rapids family fights for guardianship of disabled son under privatized Medicaid

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MARION, Iowa, KCRG-TV9 -- Representatives from the three private insurance companies now managing Iowa’s Medicaid system met with eastern Iowans to hear what problems and concerns they’ve experienced under the state’s newly privatized system.

Democratic Senator Liz Mathis hosted a listening post in Marion Tuesday evening. There, Medicaid providers and members participated in a town hall meeting with representatives from AmeriHealth Caritas, Amerigroup, and UnitedHealthcare.

For one Cedar Rapids mother, her questions revolved around a single piece of information she’s had problems with for months.

“It is truly a slap in the face for families who are still sitting here dealing with something as simple as guardianship,” said Cindy Smothers, whose adult son Tyler, has mental and physical disabilities. “Of all things, that should've been the easiest thing, to just transfer the records over.”

For the last 13 years, Cindy has managed her son’s healthcare decisions as his legal guardian. In December, she filed the paperwork necessary to maintain her guardianship.

Now, dozens of phone calls, emails, and face-to-face conversations later, AmeriHealth Caritas – her son’s Medicaid managed care organization – still doesn’t have her listed as Tyler’s guardian.

That makes it nearly impossible for Cindy to access Tyler’s healthcare information.

“Any decision that involves his livelihood, he would make that on his own,” Cindy said. “I would not be able to step in and make any influence in that.”

An AmeriHealth representative told Cindy the guardianship issue will be resolved by Friday, June 3.

“We’ll cross our fingers,” Cindy said.

An AmeriHealth representative at the forum declined to explain in an interview why Cindy's guardianship paperwork continues to be lost in the company's system.