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Medicaid up for big debates at Mississippi Capitol in 2018

(Craig Ford)

Mississippi legislators in 2018 are expected to bicker over Medicaid, a government health insurance program that consumes a large portion of the state budget and covers about 1 in every 4 residents.

Posted: Dec 26, 2017 12:34 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislators in 2018 are expected to bicker over Medicaid, a government health insurance program that consumes a large portion of the state budget and covers about 1 in every 4 residents.

The program comes up for a thorough review every few years, and 2018 is one of them.

Legislators could discuss a wide range of issues, including managed-care contracts with private companies.

Top lawmakers said the House and Senate could even discuss details that affect Medicaid recipients' daily lives. That would include whether to reconsider the limits on the number of prescriptions that can be filled and the number of doctors' office visits that can be made by those who are not enrolled in managed care.

Most Medicaid recipients are in managed care , and supporters say it is designed to control costs by emphasizing preventative care and by trying to steer people away from expensive trips to the emergency room for illnesses that are better treated in nonemergency settings. However, critics say managed care creates another layer of bureaucracy for health care providers.

"The complaint with managed care is a complaint with insurance. It's how the billing is done and things like that," said House Medicaid Committee Chairman Chris Brown, a Republican from Nettleton. "Pretty much the same complaints they have with any insurance."

A Medicaid medical care advisory committee of physicians and health care administrators met several times during 2017 and gave legislators a list of recommendations in mid-December. It said, among other things, that the Division of Medicaid should give health providers more information about how to deal with documents required by managed care companies. It also said the two Medicaid managed care companies should be consistent in what they require from providers.

Senate Medicaid Committee Chairman Brice Wiggins, a Republican from Pascagoula, said lawmakers are aware of providers' frustrations.

"The Legislature, to this point, is committed to managed care," Wiggins said. "We're only a couple years into the managed care program. .... When you do something this big, there's going to be issues, and so we need to try to address those."

The state-funded part of Medicaid budget was set at about $920 million for the year that started July 1 - a slight decrease from the previous year. Program leaders are requesting an additional $47 million to cover costs through June 30.

About 707,000 of Mississippi's nearly 3 million residents are enrolled in Medicaid, and the program makes up about one-sixth of the overall state budget.

Republican Rep. John Read of Gautier, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the midyear funding request for Medicaid could go up or down, depending on the use of services the next few months: the number of prescriptions filled, the number of emergency room visits, and other variables.

"It's a moving target," Read said of the Medicaid budget.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
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