Changes to MS Medicaid program approved by lawmakers - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Changes to MS Medicaid program approved by lawmakers

Medicaid program changes will include opioid, drug addiction treatment coverage. Source: WLBT Medicaid program changes will include opioid, drug addiction treatment coverage. Source: WLBT
Medicaid program changes will include opioid, drug addiction treatment coverage. Source: WLBT Medicaid program changes will include opioid, drug addiction treatment coverage. Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The legislative session is winding down and a big ticket item got checked off the to-do list Tuesday.

Lawmakers are updating the state's Medicaid program that insures one in four Mississippians.

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The Medicaid tech bill came down to the wire for Monday night's deadline.

"The conferees have all six signed and filed last night at about five minutes 'til 8:00," noted Representative Jason White.

Here's the purpose of the tech bill: It lays out who qualifies for Medicaid and what they're offered as a beneficiary. This year, lawmakers got the chance to go through the details with a fine-toothed comb.

"We were trying to get to where it improved health outcomes but also looking at the costs and retaining legislative authority over the program," explained Senate Medicaid Chairman Brice Wiggins.

One thing they agreed to do is eliminate the limits on doctor visits and prescription counts. Current law caps the doctor visits at 12.

"Creates an incentive for beneficiaries to go to the emergency room, which is very cost prohibitive or is expensive," said Wiggins, in regards to the current cap. "And every health care person you talked to said that was not in the best interest of creating good health outcomes. So, that limit was removed."

There's also the addition of opioids and other drug addiction treatment coverage. Rural hospitals may also get a financial boost under the new rules.

"We enriched the hospital reimbursement formula pretty substantially, especially for rural hospitals who were just tottering on the verge of bankruptcy," said Rep. Steve Holland. "I mean, that's a fact. So, it's a good bill."

Part of the earlier debate focused on control over the managed care program. Right now, the state pays insurance companies to administer the Medicaid program. The hospital association wanted providers to have a shot at the $3 billion contract. Ultimately, that part of the program will not change.

The bill now goes to Governor Bryant for consideration.

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