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DAY 2 OF BUDGET HEARINGS: Medicaid Changes on the Horizon

September 20th, 2011

Yesterday, the Mississippi Department of Medicaid shared its budget request with the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. In addition to providing healthcare financing to over 700,000 adults and children, the program brings in over $4.5 billion in federal dollars to the state’s economy.

Some interesting findings and reflections from the hearing:

  • Needs are rising in an environment of declining resources;
    • On average, the number of individuals served by Medicaid (not including those served by the Children’s Health Insurance Program [CHIP]) increased from 615,497 to 631,083 over the last year.
    • The number of children served through the CHIP program increased from 67,336 to 69,669.
    • The enrollment increases are occurring in the context of slow economic growth and associated low expectations for additional revenue.
    • Healthcare reform offers an incredible opportunity to improve the economic and physical health of Mississippians.

Last week, we posted information that showed a significant increase in the rate of Mississippians that were uninsured. More than 1 in 5 Mississippians live without health insurance. This information comes on the heels of information released by the Mississippi Department of Health that Mississippi ranks 1st in heart disease, 3rd in cancer death rates, 1st in infant mortality, and 1st in low birth weight babies. We will post more on these numbers in our recap on the hearing from the state department of health.

Unfortunately, much of the hearing focused on the state costs for healthcare reform over the next decade. Conveniently omitted from this discussion were the federal resources that will be brought into the state as a result of healthcare reform. A study by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy shows that state expenditures for new Medicaid recipients resulting from healthcare reform will cost $11.4 billion from 2014 to 2019. Of those costs, 97 percent will be covered by the federal government. Essentially, Mississippi will receive over $11 billion from 2014 to 2019 to implement the policy.

The bottom line is that Mississippians need better access to health care and the reform will both improve health outcomes and create jobs. It is a policy to be embraced for the opportunity that it presents.

Ed Sivak-06

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