Mississippi House threatens Medicaid budget in rules dispute

Mississippi House members on Sunday threatened to torpedo next year's $6 billion budget for the state-federal Medicaid health insurance program, unless senators agree to rule changes.

Posted: Mar 25, 2018 8:48 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi House members on Sunday threatened to torpedo next year's $6 billion budget for the state-federal Medicaid health insurance program, unless senators agree to rule changes.

Representatives sent the 2019 budget back for more talks with the Senate, demanding that the Senate agree on a rules bill before the House approves the budget.

Among other things, House members have been seeking another opportunity for the state's hospitals to bid on part of the Medicaid program's managed care business. The Senate is resisting that demand after the Medicaid agency rejected a bid from a hospital group last summer.

If the House and Senate can't agree on provisions in what's known as the Medicaid technical amendments bill, all the existing rules would end June 30. That would give Gov. Phil Bryant full control of the program, subject to federal approvals.

Rep. Becky Currie, a Brookhaven Republican, warned that was exactly what was about to happen.

"We're tired, we're ready to go home, but I'm not tired enough to give up my authority on the Medicaid tech bill," Currie told House members. "Do not fund Medicaid until we get a tech bill. It is vital. Hear me."

The move came as the House passed many of the bills needed to fund Mississippi's $6.1 billion state budget for the year beginning July 1. A summary distributed to House members shows that K-12 education, community colleges and universities would get basically the same amount of money as in the current year. Getting boosts would be the Department of Human Services, the Department of Child Protection Services, the Department of Rehabilitation Services, the state medical examiner's office and the state prison system.

Total projected state spending would increase $22 million, less than one-half percent, above the $6.07 billion the state is spending this year. Talks continue on some bills, including K-12, community college and university funding, but it's unclear if any more total money could be allotted to those agencies.

One in four Mississippians are insured under Medicaid, including people in nursing homes, disabled adults, pregnant women and young children. The technical amendments bill, Senate Bill 2836 , has been subject to heavy lobbying by hospitals, managed care insurers and other interests. It governs things like reimbursement rates to physicians and other health care providers and whether nursing homes will have to negotiate for payment rates with managed care companies.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves hasn't even officially named negotiators, although a conference report must be filed by Monday night. Rep. Jason White, a West Republican, said he's been talking to Senate Medicaid Committee Chairman Brice Wiggins, a Pascagoula Republican. West said it if was up to him and Wiggins, they could work something out.

"However, Chairman Wiggins isn't calling the shot on the Senate end and I think the jury's out on exactly what his boss wants down there," West said of Reeves.

Laura Hipp, a spokeswoman for the Republican lieutenant governor, said senators are not trying to kill the technical amendment bill.

West said senators want to let managed care insurers negotiate for lower payment rates, unlike the House, which wants to maintain at least some rates set in law. House members also want to remove limits on physician visits and prescriptions by Medicaid beneficiaries.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 537813

Reported Deaths: 11024
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson791691529
Mobile41177808
Madison35002507
Tuscaloosa25871454
Shelby25076249
Montgomery24549591
Baldwin21290309
Lee15946171
Calhoun14556319
Morgan14364280
Etowah13890353
Marshall12262223
Houston10602282
Elmore10115206
Limestone10031151
St. Clair9890245
Cullman9730194
Lauderdale9449243
DeKalb8853188
Talladega8325176
Walker7259277
Autauga6971108
Jackson6830112
Blount6750139
Colbert6317134
Coffee5546119
Dale4869113
Russell444338
Chilton4343113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4040152
Escambia394577
Chambers3581123
Dallas3564153
Clarke351361
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302298
Winston275673
Bibb263064
Geneva252577
Marengo249664
Pickens234862
Barbour231956
Hale223677
Butler217869
Fayette212462
Henry189644
Cherokee184345
Randolph182042
Monroe178140
Washington167639
Macon160750
Clay156957
Crenshaw153357
Cleburne149241
Lamar143035
Lowndes139653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123041
Conecuh110629
Coosa108928
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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