By Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The four national health insurance companies selected to manage Iowa’s $4.2 billion Medicaid program have signed contracts with the state to begin work.

The Iowa Department of Human Services said Friday that contracts have been signed with Amerigroup, AmeriHealth Caritas, UnitedHealthcare and WellCare Health Plans.

The companies were selected this summer among 10 bidders after state officials announced this year that Iowa’s Medicaid program would switch to a private system. The selected companies are expected to take over management Jan. 1.

The decision has been criticized by some health care advocates and lawmakers, who say the plan to implement the new system is moving too quickly.

Branstad’s office has said the shift will help the state find savings while improving care.

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