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State Medicaid director warns lawmakers program's cost will skyrocket

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Drew Snyder, executive director of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, gives members of the House of Representatives Medicaid Committee an outline of the state's Medicaid program at the Mississippi Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, in Jackson, Miss. 
(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The head of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid warned lawmakers on Wednesday that the state share of the cost to run the safety net program could increase exponentially over the next few years.

Will Stribling

State Medicaid director warns lawmakers program's cost will skyrocket


The federal government pays the lion's share of the cost to run the state's Medicaid program, but Drew Snyder, Executive Director of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, told members of the state Senate's appropriations committee that his office projects the state share will need to increase by over $400 million during the 2026 fiscal year. 

“With the declining federal funding share, the federal regulatory landscape… and just the rising costs of care and labor, the Medicaid program is going to cost substantially more to run in the future with potentially fewer levers to control those costs,” Snyder said. 

Mississippi received hundreds of millions of extra federal Medicaid dollars during the COVID-19 public health emergency in exchange from not disenrolling people from the program during the pandemic, but that extra funding expired at the end of 2023. Snyder says his division is going to spend the $326 million it has in reserves to make up for those lost funds, but that will be depleted by the end of the 2025 fiscal year.  The division is also requesting an $83 million funding increase from the legislature for the upcoming fiscal year. 

The projection from Snyder is likely to complicate discussions around expanding the program to the working poor during the legislative session. Snyder says finding the extra funding for the program in a few years will be a tall order for lawmakers. 

“I think it's a delicate balancing act,” Snyder said. “We've got to make sure that we continue to build on the positive momentum in the program and support the Medicaid program while making sure that we're controlling costs for taxpayers and not crowding out resources for other core functions of government like education and public safety.”

Medicaid is the largest health insurance program in the state, covering anywhere between 25-30% of the state's population at a given time.