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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.

Cases: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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