/With minutes to spare, Medicaid tech bill lives

With minutes to spare, Medicaid tech bill lives

After a stressful weekend in which both House and Senate leaders threatened to kill the bill, lawmakers approved the final version four minutes before the Monday deadline of 8 p.m. The bill was approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday. Brice Wiggins (R-Pascagoula), Senate Medicaid Chairman, stated that “we weren’t willing [to move on] from the issue”. “I believe it represents a solid piece of policy, so I look forward (to presenting it to the Senate).” The conference draft of the Medicaid tech bill will be voted on Tuesday morning by each body. The conference bill is significantly different from the earlier version that the House passed earlier in the month. The provisions allow the agency to reimburse providers who treat opioid-addicted people, but not for other drug addictions. It includes language to increase the reimbursement rate for Mississippi’s rural hospital, which has struggled financially in recent times. Also it contains language that requires that the division redo the overall hospital reimbursement formula. It does not include the controversial House platform: an allowance for a Division of Medicaid hospital-run insurance plan. Both parties have supported the idea of a provider-sponsored plan. This language was included in earlier versions of House Medicaid bills. They were passed by wide margins. However, the Senate had not yet endorsed this measure. As the deadline approached, and the impasse between the two houses continued to grow, lawmakers acknowledged that there was a high possibility of the tech bill being killed. The Senate position was eventually accepted by the House. Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) downplayed importance of including a provider sponsored plan when he was asked. Gunn stated, “We clearly were trying to run (Medicaid) the most effective program that we could.” “That was just one idea. We believed we could create more competition with the provider-sponsored plans. We believe that this results in a better bill. That was the sticking point. “And getting the deal done was more essential, I guess.” Over the past two months, the House has mostly aligned itself to the hospitals by passing versions of a tech bill which would allow Mississippi True, a new provider-run insurer, to be included in the managed care program. The Hospital Association has also supported the bill. Mississippi True was unsuccessful last summer in securing one of three lucrative managed-care contracts offered by the Division of Medicaid. Many lawmakers feel it deserves another chance. However, the three Medicaid insurance companies that received those contracts in June — Magnolia Health and United Healthcare, as well as Molina Healthcare — have resisted, arguing it sets a poor precedent for legislators to get involved in agency business. The Senate has mostly sided with the insurance companies, passing versions that do not mention a provider-run plan for health insurance. After a lengthy recess Monday night, the House voted unanimously to approve the Medicaid Appropriations Bill that the Senate passed on Monday morning. However, they did not vote on Tuesday on a motion for reconsideration. This allowed them time to wait until the Senate votes to pass the conference Medicaid technical bill.