JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Democrats in the Mississippi Legislature say they’re working on proposals to keep Medicaid alive and funded in the budget year that starts July 1.
They say they’re doing this in case Republican Gov. Phil Bryant calls a special session before the end of June.
However, Bryant said last week he believes he can run Medicaid without legislative authorization — even with no budget in place.
House Democratic Leader Bobby Moak said there’s new urgency because a federal agency on Monday released proposed rules for how it would reduce Medicaid payments to hospitals that treat large numbers of uninsured patients. If the rules are adopted by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), changes could start taking effect in a few months.
Mississippi hospital leaders worry they’ll face a financial crunch by losing federal money while still seeing large numbers of patients who don’t have private insurance or Medicaid. Some say that could force hospitals to find ways to increase fees for the patients who do have health insurance.
“It’s just a bad deal for the hospitals,” House Democratic Leader Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto said Tuesday.
Bryant has said repeatedly that he believes Mississippi can’t afford to put more people on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the needy, aged, blind, disabled and low-income families with children.
In a statement Tuesday, Bryant spokesman Mick Bullock said the proposed rules issued Monday by the federal government would be temporary, even if they’re adopted. In two years, the federal government could change the way it calculates payments to hospitals.
While all states would lose money under the proposed rules issued Monday, those with higher shares of uninsured residents would lose less. That means Mississippi would lose less than, for example, Colorado, which is expanding Medicaid.