One of Mississippi's largest state agencies is without permanent leadership just weeks before legislators begin the 2018 legislative session. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.
Medicaid is a multimillion dollar health insurance program, larger than any other spending priority in the state's budget. Dr. David Dzielak, after six years of heading the Mississippi division, was asked to resign last week after a disagreement with Governor Phil Bryant. Bryant wants to combine the screening portion of Medicaid's enrollment process with that of the Department of Human Services.
Democratic Representative Jay Hughes of Oxford says he doesn't support the governor's idea.
"There are so many things that do need to be addressed in Mississippi and in Medicaid. It's a shame that we are going to tinker with the one thing we're doing right," said Hughes.
Jameson Taylor with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy agrees with the Governor's plan. He says it's time for a change.
"The idea has been to have a kind of one-stop shop for people where you can quickly and efficiently verify eligibility and get better services to people as a result but then to also cut down on fraud," says Taylor.
Starting in January, lawmakers are scheduled to reauthorize Medicaid. Hughes says there's also a need to re-examine rules underlying the health insurance program.
"Right now you're limited to twelve doctor visits per year and five prescriptions per month. The fact is, many people need far more than five prescriptions per month," said Hughes.
One in every four Mississippians is covered by Medicaid. Dzielak told House members last week Medicaid needs another $47 million to close the gap in this budget year.