Dubuque business owners appeal to Governor during tour - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque business owners appeal to Governor during tour

Gov. Branstad met with owners of Unified Therapy Services in Dubuque Gov. Branstad met with owners of Unified Therapy Services in Dubuque

Governor Terry Branstad traveled to Dubuque Friday, to visit with the two winners of the Iowa Small Business Persons of the Year for 2011.

They are Kelly Heysinger and Gina Blean, and together, they own Unified Therapy Services. That's a pediatric-focused outpatient clinic in Dubuque, offering physical, occupational and speech therapy services.

Branstad's visit intended, in part, to reinforce the importance of small businesses in Iowa, but Blean and Heysinger used this private audience with the governor to address a new hardship facing their business.

Heysinger says it's due to the HIPAA 5010 conversion, a Federal requirement, newly effective this year, requiring health care transactions to be processed electronically.

"Approximately 70 to 72 percent of our reimbursement comes from Iowa Medicaid," Heysinger said. "Unfortunately, Iowa Medicaid is having a large difficulty with being able to process these electronic claims, so not only us, but several other statewide medical providers are not receiving any of our Medicaid reimbursement at this point."

"This was kind of a federal program that was put in place, and we want to see what can be done to try to expedite that," Branstad said, "but it's a pretty difficult challenge."

Both he and Heysinger agreed, it's beneficial to move to electronic medical records nationwide.

However, Branstad said, "it is an expensive and difficult transition. We need to all try to work together to work through that situation. We're certainly trying to do all we can."

For Heysinger, however, every day without Iowa Medicaid reimbursement is a sharp pain in the business' budget.

"Unfortunately, us that run on a very tight budget are now not even having the income that we need to keep our doors open," Heysinger said. "Then, in the end, our ultimate goal of being able to provide new jobs can't get accomplished."

She also cited concerns about the shrinking percentage of reimbursement coming from Iowa Medicaid.

"Our last increase in Iowa Medicaid reimbursement was January first of 2008," she said." We received a five percent reimbursement rate reduction in 2009 and an approximate eight percent reimbursement reduction in 2011."

Branstad said former governor Chet Culver, "did a major across-the-board cut and then used one-time money for Medicaid, so we inherited a real financial mess, and the first thing we had to do was dig out of that mess. We had $540 million shortfall because he had one-time money used for ongoing expenses for Medicaid."

He said the Iowa Legislature passed a two-year budget for Medicaid and other programs, protecting against across-the-board cuts that could slash Medicare reimbursement rates.

"Hopefully, as we work to become the healthiest state, we're going to be able to save health care costs and be able to do more to meet kids that have special needs, like the children that they're serving here," Branstad said.

He said Medicaid accounts for about one-third of the state's budget.

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