JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi lawmakers on Monday approved most remaining parts of the state budget for the year beginning July 1, and negotiators filed a proposal to keep the Medicaid program alive and running.
Medicaid is government health insurance program for the needy and is paid by federal and state money. It covers about 1 in 4 Mississippi residents. The program comes up for a thorough legislative review every few years, including this one.
Hospital administrators have been lobbying lawmakers to let hospitals get a piece of Medicaid’s managed care program that is now run by other companies. Senate Medicaid Committee Chairman Brice Wiggins, a Republican from Pascagoula, said negotiators rejected that idea.
The Medicaid plan is in Senate Bill 2836 , which governs who gets paid for providing health care and how. The plan includes provisions designed to give a financial boost to rural hospitals. It also gives Medicaid administrators more flexibility, within federal laws and regulations, to determine how many physicians’ visits are allowed, and it allows flexibility for reimbursement for certain drugs, implantable drug system devices and medical supplies.
Mississippi would spend more than $900 million in state dollars on Medicaid in the coming year. Because Mississippi is poor, the federal government provides about $3 for every $1 from the state.
Other parts of the budget went to Gov. Phil Bryant for his approval or veto, including the state’s K-12 education budget. House Bill 1592 provides $2.2 billion in state money for school spending in the budget year beginning July 1. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program, as the public school funding formula is called, will get a slight increase to pay higher health insurance costs for teachers.
Lawmakers will spend another $2.5 million on a program that pays for 4-year-olds to attend preschool, allowing expansion beyond the current 14 communities that the program serves. Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison, an Oxford Republican, told senators that should allow the state to serve another thousand children, bringing the total served to 3,000.
The state will spend more on teacher bonuses for schools that get As and Bs in the state’s rating system or go up a grade. Tollison said that shows more schools are performing well.
Education is the largest part of the $6.1 billion budget that legislators are pushing through in the closing days of the 2018 regular session. Lawmakers continued talks
The Legislature also voted Sunday for the state to borrow more than $250 million, including:
— $82.3 million for university projects;
— $50 million to replace local bridges;
— $45 million for improvements at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula;
— $36 million for state agency buildings;
— $25 million for community colleges.