/Medicaid pushes for salary increases

Medicaid pushes for salary increases

Dzielak informed Jackson’s legislators on Thursday that turnover had cost his department $3.8million in 2016. Dzielak cited low wages and a high-stress environment as reasons why many employees leave. Dzielak stated that it was a major issue for them. “Funding to reclassify these positions would certainly help stem the tide,” Dzielak said. This was part of the second round meeting with legislators with state agency administrators that was organized by the Legislature’s budget and tax working groups. These meetings are intended to evaluate the state’s tax structure as well as 13 state agency budgets. This week’s meetings were focused on personnel issues. Legislators heard from IT, K-12 education and the Institutes of Higher Learning and Community and Junior Colleges. Last month, the working groups met for the first time with officials from state agencies. Dzielak’s appeal for higher salaries was not heard by many legislators. They were more concerned with cutting the Medicaid budget than Dzielak. Rep. Sam Mims (R-McComb) said, “As we know, we’re going have a tight fiscal budget, therefore we’re going need to find ways to reduce costs.” “My colleagues are asking very important question; our goal is take care of our citizens, but also to reduce costs.” Mary Currier, the state’s health officer, stated Wednesday that her department could be more efficient by hiring less but better-qualified nurses at a higher pay. Philip Gunn, Speaker of the House, asked if such a solution could be implemented with Medicaid’s 657 specialists. These employees determine eligibility for beneficiaries and are described by Dzielak as the most underpaid but also the most important workers within the department. Dzielak stated that his employees are already stretched thin. Dzielak says that eligibility workers should not have more than 600 cases, but it is common for offices to have as many as 750 to 800 cases per employee. Dzielak stated that in aggregate, we could use more people. “That would help with work stress too, since we’re required by the federal government that those applications be turned over within a specified time.” Sen. Brice WIggins, R.Pascagoula wondered if cutting reimbursements for optional services such as home health care and pharmacy could reduce costs. Dzielak, however, found no room for maneuver in this category. He argued that many optional services are covered under preventive care. Dzielak stated that while you may save money in short-term, you will spend more long-term because many of these people will be sicker and the care level will be higher if you continue with the services. Both sides agreed that federal regulations, imposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, are one of the major causes of inefficiency. Dzielak stated that claims can take longer to get reimbursed due to mistakes made by providers, which means claims need to be submitted again. Dzielak stated that while training and education would be helpful in submitting claims, we cannot tell providers how to submit one. Wiggins stated, “Well, that seems absurd.” “But that’s the federal government.” Dzielak stated that there was no way to cut costs in the department. Dzielak stated that the best thing for the state would be to increase the state’s economy so there aren’t as many people who qualify for services.