Mississippi legislators worked through a stalmate to negotiate an agreement for the state-federal Medicaid Program just ahead of a Monday night deadline. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
Mississippi lawmakers spent two days reviewing Medicaid bills. One is the appropriations measure that funds the program. The other is the Technical Amendment bill which includes who is paid and and how much they receive for services. Sunday House lawmakers sent the appropriations bill back to the Senate for conference because the technical bill wasn't included. House Republican Becky Currie said without voting on the technical bill, legislators would lose their authority to oversee Medicaid. Whoever is governor would have that control.
"I'm not willing to go home and tell my people 'I'm sorry, I just stood here and took it. I can no longer help you with Medicaid,' " said Curry.
At the heart of the issue is a House amendment to the technical bill that would require the state Division of Medicaid reopen bids for three managed care contracts that were awarded to insurance companies. There are complaints Mississippi True, a group of 60 hospitals wasn't awarded a contract. House Democrat Jarvis Dortch of Jackson is on the Medicaid Committee. He says hospitals say they aren't being paid promptly or sometimes not at all. Mississippi True wants to administer a portion of the Medicaid managed care dollars.
"It's not even necessarily opening up the bid process. It's making sure maybe the hospitals are a part of the managed care program," said Dortch.
Republican Senator Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula chairs the Medicaid Committee. He says Mississippi True finished 6th out of 7th in the bidding process.
"I've heard those things about the bidding not fair. But it's been upheld. There's not been a court of law that set it aside and they want the legislature to step in? That would open up pandora's box," said Wiggins.
The Senate did vote to pass the Medicaid appropriations bill. Seven-hundred and fifty-thousand Mississippians receive Medicaid benefits.