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Medicaid tech bill faces midnight deadline

Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News

The Mississippi Legislature is looking to reauthorize the Medicaid tech bill, as well as, the Medicaid appropriations bill this session. With four different deadlines drawing close for the House and Senate to make the final decision, there is some speculation as to whether or not it will get passed by the end of the deadline.

“The ultimate deadline is midnight tonight to pass conference reports,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden. “We’ve been there to midnight before. Hopefully, that won’t happen tonight, there’s no reason to believe that it will, but it could.”

If a decision is not reached by midnight, the funding for Medicaid would be dead effective July 1, 2018.

“If we don’t get it done by midnight, there are some available avenues,” Snowden said. “

“Nobody would want the funding for Medicaid to die which is what this one does,” Snowden said. “This one is kind of being used to hold the other one hostage or vice-versa.”

However, if no agreement has been reached by midnight on the $6.1 billion appropriations bill Governor Bryant could potentially take over Mississippi’s Division of Medicaid.

“Truthfully it is a policy question here that is the real issue,” Snowden said. “Would it be better to have the Governor run it as opposed to the legislature. I think that you have Republicans and Democrats in the legislature who think it would be a bad idea for the legislature to give up its authority over the division of Medicaid.”

With a lack of negotiations in the legislature up until this point, House and Senate conferees were just named over the weekend.

House conferees:
Rep. Chris Brown, Rep. Jason White, Rep. Joey Hood

Senate conferees:
Sen. Brice Wiggins, Sen. Terry Burton, Sen. Buck Clarke

Negotiations will continue throughout the day and potentially into the night.

To create the House’s version of the Medicaid Tech bill, Tim Moore, President of the Mississippi Hospital Association said they sat down together with legislators and members of the medical community at the end of 2017 to see what needed to be done.

“We got together and looked at the tech bill, step by step, and looked at what needed to be cleaned up, what needs to be fixed, and we asked ourselves how we can do things that will benefit the recipients of Medicaid,” Moore said. “That’s almost identical to what you see in the House bill.”

In early February, News Mississippi sat down with Moore to discuss both the House and Senate’s versions of the Medicaid Tech bill. Moore said that within the House bill there were a few things added, including their desire to raise the limit on physician visits from six to 12.

In addition, the rural health portion of the bill which would allow hospitals under 50 beds to be reimbursed at 101% of the cost which is huge for the small rural hospitals. That portion of the bill removes the caps on prescriptions, it removes the cap on position visits and a number of other things.

“The bad thing in the Senate bill is that they allow the managed care companies to negotiate rates to providers,” Moore said. “That is a problem. If the only way they can save money is to pay providers less that is a problem. Their job was to manage the care, they have not done it over the years they have been here so, let’s not go after providers because that is not where the cost is.”

While Moore said the aggregate numbers have gone up slightly due to more individuals being admitted into the Medicaid program than there were five years ago, hospitals have not received an increase from Medicaid in the past five to six years.

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