/Medicaid in Mississippi the real cost of not expanding it

Medicaid in Mississippi the real cost of not expanding it

Wright is trapped in what is often referred to as “the healthcare coverage gap”. Wright is one of 300,000 Mississippians without health insurance. She can’t afford private insurance and doesn’t qualify to receive Medicaid. Since 2014, states have been able to extend Medicaid eligibility to all people with incomes below a certain amount — $30,300 per year for a family of 3 — by expanding Medicaid eligibility. Mississippi is one of 12 states that has not expanded despite the substantial financial benefits and the increased federal matching rate under The American Rescue Plan Act 2021. While Wright and others in Mississippi are still struggling, state legislators have once again decided not to expand and don’t seem to be ready to do so soon. The current program includes children, the elderly, pregnant women who are poor, and disabled people. Mississippi does not offer Medicaid to able-bodied adults. At least 225,000 Mississippians, including Wright, would be eligible for Medicaid if the state leaders expanded Medicaid. Wright hasn’t seen a doctor in years because she isn’t insured. Wright began experiencing severe abdominal pain and vomiting in May last year. She was so pain-stricken that she went to the emergency room. She was diagnosed with pancreatitis by her doctors. However, she was advised to have her gallbladder removed at a follow up appointment at Central Surgical Associates in Jackson. Her doctor informed her that she didn’t have health insurance and suggested she contact the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitative Services in order to determine if she was eligible for their vocational rehabilitation program. This program provides resources for people with disabilities that hinder their ability to work. In order to allow her to continue working, the program covered her costs for her surgery. According to a spokeswoman for the department, Mississippians with disabilities spent more than $10 million on “physical rehabilitation” last fiscal year. Any condition that prevents someone from gaining or maintaining employment is considered a disability. Despite not having Medicaid expansion, the state still has to pay the bill for some Mississippians’ medical care. Wright was accepted for the program and thought she had the answer to her problem. Then, the $245 bill for Central Surgical Associates consultation came in the mail. Wright had assumed that the appointment fee would be added to her surgery bill. But she quickly discovered she was actually responsible. She could not afford it and the vocational rehabilitation program does not pay for any past bills. Wright claims that she tried to arrange a $25 per month payment plan with Central Surgical Associates but was told she would have to pay the entire amount. Central Surgical Associates employees Judy Skinner, Laura Yarbrough and Laura Yarbrough told Mississippi Today that they offered Wright a payment plan. They claimed they called Wright numerous times between June and November, but couldn’t reach her. Wright claims she was not offered a payment plan, but her bill was handed over to collections on Oct. 31. Wright claimed she can only recall one phone call to the doctor’s office. She answered the call while working, but did not hear any other person. Wright said, “I’m trying my hardest, but it doesn’t seem like it’s good enough.” Because of the time since her first appointment, Wright cannot come up with $245. Her symptoms have worsened over the years. She often experiences sharp pains, nausea, and indigestion. She is often required to sit during shifts, and she has been sent home from work early several times. She said, “It makes work difficult.” “I wish there were a way… I could be eligible for some type of affordable health insurance to help me out some.” Mississippi health advocates have long supported Medicaid expansion. Governor. Tate Reeves, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and both have repeatedly voiced their opposition. Roy Mitchell, executive director for the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program, said that Briana’s story is a powerful and all too common example of both the fiscal and human benefits that Medicaid expansion can bring to Mississippi. “Expansion would help more than 200,000 Mississippi residents obtain health coverage while simultaneously bringing billions of dollars home from Washington, D.C.. Hardworking families in Mississippi need to be able see the doctor and receive life-saving medicine.” While 90% of Medicaid expansion costs are covered by the federal government, 10% is left up to the states. This amount will remain the same for two years under The American Rescue Plan Act. Recent research found that Mississippi would be able to save $212 million if it expanded the program. This money could be used for anything lawmakers want, not just healthcare. Lt. Governor is the only major politician in Mississippi that supports Medicaid expansion. Delbert Hosemann is a vocal critic of the lack of access to healthcare for the working poor. He recounted recently the story of a Greenwood mother who was uninsured and developed breast cancer, but waited to see a doctor. She died soon after. “The lieutenant governor visited many Mississippians who work every day without health insurance for their families and themselves. In a statement to Mississippi Today, Hosemann’s chief staff Leah Smith stated that healthy people are more likely to work, give back to their communities, and care for their families. “The lieutenant governor is still interested in finding solutions that increase healthcare access for Mississippians,” Hosemann’s chief of staff said in a statement to Mississippi Today. However, no legislation has been introduced in the last four weeks of the 2022 legislative sessions to expand Medicaid coverage or extend healthcare coverage to working Mississippians. This session saw at least eight expansion bills filed, but none of them were ever considered or debated before being killed in committee. Similar bills were filed in the past, but none have made it to committee. The Republican-controlled legislature, coupled with the opposition from Reeves and Gunn, means there is very little appetite for even exploring expansion. Senator Chad McMahan from Guntown is a rare exception. However, he said that he was interested in holding hearings about Medicaid reform. “… While I don’t want to expand Medicaid to people who are not working, for Mississippians who have and have not had basic coverage, (I support) creating a category for them. McMahan was raised by a small-business owner and their family didn’t have any health insurance. McMahan recalls the $20,000 hospital bill they had to pay after an accident in the 1980s. McMahan stated, “I’m very sympathetic to people who don’t have health care.” Wright, along with 300,000 Mississippians who are uninsured, remain without any access to healthcare. Wright is now afraid of losing her job or worse. She said, “I am afraid that my gallbladder is going to get worse and make me more sick.”