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Key lawmakers Consider Expanding Medicaid In Mississippi

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 20 Sep 2012 09:28pm | comments
David Dzielak

Mississippi's Medicaid program could cost the state nearly 1-billion dollars in the next fiscal year. But, as MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, Medicaid was the framework for a discussion by legislators of whether or not to expand it to more Mississippians.

Division of Medicaid Director Dr. David Dzielak says Medicaid.....the government insurance plan for the poor....will cost about 980-million dollars next year.

that's a 158-million dollar increase that is largely driven by factors out of the control of the state...this includes program growth and the drop in the federal match known as FMAP.

"A great impact is really just an increase in medical service cost. As well as a change in the FMAP. a 1% change in the FMAP translates into 40-million dollar impact on the state," Dzielak said.

Dzielak made the prediction to members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee in Jackson yesterday.

The topic quickly changed to a discussion of whether or not to expand the Medicaid program to cover more Mississippians, which is a provision in the health care reform law.

Expanding Medicaid was met with skepticism by many of the committee members, like Lt. Governor Tate Reeves who worries about the cost of an already expensive program.

"As it currently stands based on the information I have, I am opposed to the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion under the act because the tax payers of Mississippi cannot afford another 1.6-billion dollar in expenses over the next ten years," Reeves said.

1-point-6 billion dollars over ten years is the highest projection, other forecasts have the expansion costing closer to 400-million.

Representative George Flaggs of Vicksburg is a budget committee member.

He says the upside is the expansion could provide health care coverage up to 4-hundred thousand Mississippians.

"It just makes sense to look at our total Medicaid program and see how we can make it more cost effective. How we can reach the greatest number of the population. Of 400-thousand people that are uninsured. And I think we can do it," Flaggs said.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee is expected to present its recommended budget in November...That budget could include a suggestion to the rest of the legislature about whether or not to expand the Medicaid program during the upcoming session.

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David Dzielak


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