Mississippi hospitals grab for piece of lucrative Medicaid contract in draft tech bill

January 6, 2018, The Clarion-Ledger, Anna Wolfe- Lawmakers are reviewing a draft proposal that would give a chunk of the lucrative Medicaid contract awarded in June to a provider sponsored health plan of which one exists in Mississippi. This follows several months of contention over the Division of Medicaid’s award of a new $2 billion managed care contract to Magnolia Health Plan, UnitedHealthcare and Molina Healthcare instead of Mississippi True, a provider-sponsored health plan formed by 65 local hospitals. The early draft of the Medicaid bill includes revisions prepared by several healthcare stakeholders, which have been meeting in a discussion group facilitated by the Mississippi Hospital Association since the summer. It has not yet been filed.

Running On Empty: CHIP Funding Could Run Out Jan. 19 For Some States

January 5, 2018, Kaiser Health News, Phil Galewitz- Some states are facing a mid-January loss of funding for their Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) despite spending approved by Congress in late December that was expected to keep the program running for three months, federal health officials said Friday. The $2.85 billion was supposed to fund states’ CHIP programs through March 31. But some states will start running out of money after Jan. 19, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CMS did not say which states are likely to be affected first.The latest estimates for when federal funding runs out could cause states to soon freeze enrollment and alert parents that the program could soon shut down. The CHIP program provides health coverage to 9 million children from lower-income households that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Its federal authorization ended Oct. 1, and states were then forced to use unspent funds to carry them over while the House and Senate try to agree on a way to continue funding.

Trump poised to take action on Medicaid work requirements

January 5, 2018, The Hill, Peter Sullivan- The Trump administration is preparing to release guidelines soon for requiring Medicaid recipients to work, according to sources familiar with the plans, a major shift in the 50-year-old program.The guidelines will set the conditions for allowing states to add work requirements to their Medicaid programs for the first time, putting a conservative twist on the health insurance program for the poor.
Democrats are gearing up for a fight, likely including lawsuits, arguing the administration is trying to undermine ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion on its own after Congress failed to repeal the health-care law. The work requirements would only take effect if a state chose to pursue them and applied for a waiver from the federal government. The Obama administration always rejected state applications that included work requirements, but the new guidelines from the Trump administration would set conditions where those applications would be approved for the first time.

Lobbyists pushing big money in health care at the Mississippi Capitol: MS Pulse

January 5, 2018, The Clarion-Ledger, Anna Wolfe- More dollars flow through the state’s Medicaid program, which insures one-fourth of Mississippians and has far reaching tentacles, than the state’s entire general budget. So the political and monetary influences surrounding health care at the Capitol are no surprise. Senate Public Health Chairman Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, no longer oversees Medicaid legislation in his chamber
after the leadership created a separate committee for the topic two years ago.When that happened, Kirby said, he was relieved. “Medicaid is like a wheel with too many spokes and too many greedy people,” Kirby said Friday. Medicaid recently awarded a new $2 billion contract to three insurance companies - Magnolia Health, UnitedHealthcare and Molina Healthcare of Mississippi to run MississippiCAN, the state’s managed care program. It’s one of the largest contracts in state history.

CDC briefing to focus on preparing for nuclear war

January 4 2018, Politico, Brianna Ehley- The CDC wants the public to be prepared for nuclear war. The agency has posted a notice touting a Jan. 16 briefing about the work that federal, state and local governments are doing in case of a possible nuclear strike. “While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps,” the notice states. “Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness.” Presenters include Dan Sosin, CDC’s deputy director and chief medical officer in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, and experts on radiation safety and environmental hazards.

Honey, We Shrunk the General Fund: Medicaid, Education, Gang Debates Loom in 2018

January 3, 2018, Jackson Free Press, Arielle Dreher- The Mississippi Health Advocacy Program polled more than 600 Mississippians about the transfer in eligibility verification and found that 53 percent opposed the transfer to MDHS.“The results of this poll make it clear that a vast majority of Mississippians do not support moving Medicaid eligibility determination to MDHS or reducing Medicaid coverage. Also, the poll strongly indicates that the public tolerance for political gamesmanship with our Medicaid program is low,” Roy Mitchell, executive director of the program, said. “Mississippi legislators who fail to recognize that Mississippians trust and value our state Medicaid program, do so at their own political peril.” Republicans constantly express frustration at the ballooning Medicaid budget, always asking the agency to cut costs. The division will ask for another deficit appropriation in the new year.