Medicaid costs the state millions of dollars every year. Meanwhile, it provides health care to nearly a quarter of Mississippians. Lawmakers will have the opportunity to re-evaluate the program this upcoming session.
Both sides of the aisle seem to agree that they want to see the state make the best use of its Medicaid dollars.
"The technical amendments bill is who qualifies for coverage and what coverage they're offered as a beneficiary," explained House Medicaid committee chairman Rep. Chris Brown.
Tuesday's Medicaid committee hearing focused on how to make those costs saving while also improving care. Here are some of the issues that were brought up within that discussion. First up, dentists say they're nearly being pushed out of the program.
"Reimbursements are typically 50 percent or less of normal and customary," noted Dr. Jim Hollingsworth. "So, you see quickly that the business model doesn't work when you have such high overhead coupled with low reimbursement."
Meanwhile, nurses are asking for more independence in rural areas. They want to do away with collaborative agreements that requires nurse practitioners to practice within a certain mileage from a primary office a physician supervisor. They say it would allow nurse practitioners to expand access to care for Medicaid recipients.
"A number of nurse practitioners have already expressed their desire to open clinics in some of those rural areas because they live there now," said Teresa Malone, Executive Director of the Mississippi Nurses' Association.
Another topic is the possibility of creating an emergency diversion program. Here's why.
"Medicaid beneficiaries use emergency departments at an almost two fold higher rate than the privately insured," noted Malone. "It's not just costly, it's also a use of resources that could've been utilized for individuals where that care was really needed."
Lawmakers will consider ideas like these as they craft the potential changes to Medicaid this session.