UPDATE: The House and Senate have finished their negotiations, and the bill has passed both chambers. It will now head the Governor’s desk to be signed.
After a morning of Senate negotiations, the chamber passed the Medicaid tech bill and subsequently the House rescinded their motion to reconsider.
Mississippi’s Medicaid budget is alive, for now. The House and Senate came down to the wire on deadlines Monday and an agreement was finally reached between the two chambers on the $6.1 billion appropriations and Medicaid tech bills late in the evening.
“We [the House] were faced with a midnight deadline for that funding bill for Medicaid last night, so in good faith, the House members said ‘we will pass the appropriations bill but we are going to hold it on a motion to reconsider, pending y’all passing the tech bill today and so they said if you [the Senate] don’t pass that tech bill so that we know we’ve got one, then we are going to kill that funding bill again,” said Representative Jason White.
If the Senate passes the bill, that means that the legislature will stay in charge of Medicaid and it will not be handed over to the Governor and a special session will not be required. While the Governor is in charge of Mississippi’s Division of Medicaid, the legislature does have the power to pass rules and regulations with running the agency.
“If we had not passed the bill… all of the legislative oversight that we have put in through the years… all of the complex things in our healthcare system in Mississippi, all of that would have died on June the 30th if we did not pass a tech bill, so the Governor would have been over there with Medicaid with no strings attached from the legislature other than an appropriations bill that we pass once a year, but there would be no regs on him from a legislative standpoint.”
The final Medicaid tech bill includes unlimited doctor visits along with unlimited prescription benefits, however, other provisions did not make the cut.
“Some of the provisions were in both of our bills… other things, like we wanted some provision for a provider-sponsored health plan which was in this instance, Mississippi True, the Hospital Association,” White said. “The House wanted some provision for them in there, the Senate was unwilling to yield on that… but we did get some audit language for the current managed care companies so that we can really see what is going on moving forward.”
White added that while not everything made it into the final bill, there were some positive changes made.
“There were some wins for Doctors,” White said. “Doctors have complained that since we have brought managed care companies into our Medicaid program, they have to then get credentialed with each of the companies even though they have been credentialed by Medicaid. So now, if you are a doctor in Mississippi credentialed by Medicaid you don’t have to jump through all of the other hoops for the different managed care organizations that are inside Medicaid.”
Tim Moore, President of the Mississippi Hospital Association said that while they have not received everything that they wanted from the Medicaid tech bill, they want to work at changing Mississippi’s healthcare model for the future.
“Nobody is listening to what we are saying,” Moore said. “It’s not let’s go build another big insurance company, let’s change healthcare, but we have got to have a different model to do it.”
However, Moore said that changing healthcare in the state will not be an easy process.
“It’s like turning a battleship,” Moore said. “When you start dealing with healthcare it is a slow gradual turn, and then you can hit bad weather and it will kick you back to where you started, but trying to get into the thought process of delivering healthcare on a proactive basis. I’ve started saying that we need to be promoting health and not healthcare.”