House Debate Over Medicaid's Waiver Program Heats up

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House Debate Over Medicaid's Waiver Program Heats up
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House Democrat Steve Holland Discussing Amendment on House Floor
Desare Frazier

Mississippi Lawmakers in the House are in the first stages of passing state agency budgets. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports legislators challenged their colleagues to bump up funding for one program.

House Republican Sam Mims of McComb, sub-committee chair for the Appropriations Committee, asked colleagues to pass HB 1650. The measure provides about $917 million for the state Division of Medicaid. But, Democrat Omeria Scott of Laurel argued for more funding for Medicaid's Home and Community Based Waiver program. She says there are 17,800 slots and a long waiting list for assistance. The program provides at home care for the elderly, the developmentally disabled and others with special needs.

"Those people could be able to remain in their homes and their families can have some respite and provide the love and care for their family members at home," said Scott.

Scott wanted to take at least $10 million from one of several other pots of money she said hasn't been allocated and use it for the waiver program. Representative Sam Mims says he's hoping to add more money but not now.

"It is my hope as I continue to discuss with the chairman of the appropriations where we can add money to the division of Medicaid and so there was very little change with this piece of legislation from last year," said Mims.

Democrat Steve Holland of Plantersville offered an amendment to take $5 million from Medicaid's $917 million budget and give it to the waiver program.

"How many calls have you gotten. Momma needs to be on assisted living she's out of money. Guess where she winds up in a nursing home. Assisted living is $1,100 a month, a nursing home is $7,200 a month," said Holland.

Mims assured the House he is talking to Medicaid about the issue and understands their concerns. The amendment failed. The House passed the Medicaid budget without changes 97 to 11.