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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: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds211139
DeSoto131115
Madison120634
Jones106149
Neshoba95268
Lauderdale87978
Rankin81612
Forrest79842
Scott74215
Harrison7198
Copiah56214
Leake54719
Holmes52040
Wayne51511
Jackson50516
Oktibbeha48324
Lee47716
Leflore46948
Yazoo4676
Washington4659
Lowndes44411
Lincoln43434
Warren42517
Lamar4077
Grenada3675
Pike35612
Monroe35529
Attala35023
Lafayette3394
Newton3289
Covington2905
Sunflower2806
Adams26318
Bolivar26113
Chickasaw25418
Panola2546
Jasper2456
Noxubee2458
Tate2457
Clay24010
Marion24011
Winston2405
Pearl River23932
Pontotoc2314
Claiborne22810
Simpson2183
Smith20411
Clarke19824
Marshall1963
Coahoma1836
Kemper17413
Union1729
Walthall1694
Carroll15711
Lawrence1541
Yalobusha1527
Webster12310
Itawamba1228
Tippah12111
Hancock12013
Humphreys1209
Calhoun1194
Montgomery1162
Jefferson Davis1034
Prentiss973
Tallahatchie943
Greene917
Tunica893
Wilkinson899
Jefferson843
Amite812
George733
Choctaw714
Quitman670
Tishomingo651
Perry594
Alcorn551
Stone511
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena61
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4210140
Montgomery378894
Mobile3634134
Tuscaloosa196436
Marshall14959
Lee116737
Shelby105623
Madison10216
Morgan9553
Franklin84313
Walker84317
Dallas8088
Elmore80614
Baldwin6639
Etowah60613
Butler60427
Chambers57627
DeKalb5765
Tallapoosa56069
Autauga53011
Unassigned50924
Russell4690
Lowndes45719
Houston4244
Lauderdale4105
Limestone4030
Cullman3983
Pike3965
Colbert3635
Bullock3609
Coffee3522
Barbour3221
Covington3086
St. Clair2922
Hale28520
Wilcox2788
Marengo27711
Sumter27512
Calhoun2685
Clarke2645
Escambia2586
Talladega2576
Dale2410
Winston2293
Jackson2102
Chilton2062
Blount2041
Pickens2046
Marion20012
Monroe1942
Choctaw19112
Conecuh1786
Randolph1699
Bibb1671
Macon1668
Greene1647
Perry1350
Henry1293
Crenshaw1223
Lawrence1000
Washington987
Cherokee717
Lamar711
Fayette661
Geneva630
Coosa551
Clay532
Cleburne291
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