JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi lawmakers are updating the state’s Medicaid program, allocating nearly $1 billion in state funds for the program that insures 1 in 4 state residents.
Senate Bill 2836 , also known at the Medicaid technical bill, was approved Tuesday by the House and Senate and sent to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant for his approval or veto.
The updated program would establish funding for substance abuse treatment for beneficiaries addicted to Schedule II and higher narcotics.
SB 2836 also removes the state’s previous limits on beneficiaries’ doctors’ visits and prescriptions. Medicaid beneficiaries were previously capped at 12 doctor’s visits per year and five prescriptions filled per month. By dissolving these limits, the legislature hopes to encourage beneficiaries to seek preventative care, rather than wait until a medical issue has escalated to an expensive emergency situation.
Rep. Jason White, a Republican from West who pushed the bill through the House, said he sees other states pushing preventative care for Medicaid beneficiaries. To save the state money and provide better health care outcomes, White said, “It works.”
White affirmed that beneficiaries’ current services have not been cut in the updated program.
The Medicaid technical bill also allows for increased funding for rural hospitals and establishes a committee to study the Mississippi’s Medicaid program’s effectiveness according to cost and health outcome measures. The bill also increases auditing requirements for managed care companies.
The bill was agreed to after negotiations that focused on an effort by a group of Mississippi hospitals to obtain part of the managed care insurance business from the state agency.
Known as Mississippi True, the House pushed hard for this pilot project, but the Senate refused to accept what would have created a provider-sponsored health plan. At the end of the day, White said the House wanted this program, but it was “not as vital as having a Medicaid technical bill.”
And if their Medicaid technical bill died, control of the division of Medicaid would have fallen into the hands of the governor — a fate neither chamber wanted.
Medicaid is a government health insurance program for the needy that’s funded with state and federal dollars. For every dollar the state pays into the program, the federal government pays about $3.