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.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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