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New White House Proposal Could Lessen Blow of Medicaid Cuts in Miss.

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 14 May 2013 04:28pm | comments

Federal spending cuts intended to encourage states to expand Medicaid may not be as bad as previously expected. 

 The White House is considering targeting the cuts, known as Medicaid 'Dish' payments, to states with the biggest decline in their uninsured rate, regardless of their status on Medicaid expansion.

 The proposal could buy time for state's like Mississippi that are still wrestling with the decision.

 Democratic Representative Robert Johnson of Natchez, a Medicaid expansion supporter, says the proposal does not change the fact that the cuts are coming.

 "The White House issues proposal, you know, this may happen that may happen. But what we are stuck with right now is the law. They can't undo the DHS payments," Johnson said.

 Earlier this week, the administration confirmed that it is on track for two rounds of cuts that could drain 140-million dollars from state hospitals over the next 18 months.

 Gwen Combs with the Mississippi Hospital Association says it is still too soon to see how this proposal could change that figure.

 "It appears to be that, for two years anyway, that is CMS's aim is to not as severely punish those hospitals that don't expand Medicaid," Combs said.

 Both the Governor and the Lt. Governor remain firm that the state should not expand Medicaid to 300,000 more Mississippians claiming the cost to the state is too high.

 Laura Hipp is Lt. Governor Tate Reeves spokesperson.

 "The Lt. Governor supports the plan that already passed the state Senate on a bi-partisan basis that re-authorizes the existing Medicaid program without it expanding it under Obamacare," Hipp said.

 Ed Sivac with the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, also a Medicaid expansion supporter, says hospitals will still face a financial squeeze.

 "Regardless  of the size of them, these are cuts that are coming on top of Medicare DSH cuts, sequestration cuts, and a whole host of other cuts. And we saw during the legislative session that hospitals have responded by laying people off," Sivac said.

 Mississippi lawmakers left Jackson without a plan to re-approve, fund, or expand Medicaid....all issues that will need to be resolved in a special session before the program expires July 1st.







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