Lawmakers examine Medicaid's future - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers examine Medicaid's future

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi's Medicaid Director is stepping down and now questions are turning to what's next for the program.

READ MORE: Mississippi Medicaid Director will be stepping down

Nearly 25 percent of Mississippians get their health care coverage through Medicaid and the high costs of that will be part of the discussions as lawmakers move into the legislative session.

Lawmakers haven't wasted their time out of session as it relates to Medicaid. That's because Medicaid is up for reauthorization this year which will give them the chance to go through the inner workings of the program with a fine tooth comb.

"The biggest issue is making sure we're doing initiatives that are focused on making sure people have quality and sustainable health care," said Representative Jarvis Dortch (D). "And realizing that health insurance is an investment in our future. It isn't a burden. It's making sure we have a healthy population that can be a part of the workforce. "

Dortch says managed care will likely be part of the cost discussions. If you aren't familiar with it, here is his explanation:

"We're essentially paying an insurance company to administer the program," explained Dortch. "So, we give them $3,000 or $4,000 for every person that's on medicaid and they administer the program."

It was intended to save the state money, but now that the program is up for reauthorization, Dortch says there are questions of how effective that's been.

Senator Terry Burton (R) doesn't want costs to be the only focus of discussions.

"Not just costs, not just services, but those services what they cost and the ultimate outcome and that should be a healthy recipient," Burton said.

But one item both lawmakers agreed on was being careful with the possibility of transferring all Medicaid eligibility responsibilities to DHS.

"DHS has shown over and over again that they are not able to administer programs correctly to benefit folks," said Dortch.

"I'm willing to discuss it but I was also here in 2003 when we moved it from DHS to Medicaid along with the employees and the money because it wasn't being totally done right," Burton added.

The House Medicaid committee has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. on how to improve care while cutting costs.

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