JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Around 163,000 Mississippians are living in a wage range of 138 percent above poverty.
On Monday, the Mississippi Hospital Association proposed a partnership between the state and federal governments and Mississippi hospitals that could give those low-paid, non-disabled adults working to provide for their families access to affordable quality healthcare. The name of the program is “Mississippi Cares,” and if you’re single and making around $17,000 a year, or married and making around $35,000 for a family of four, it applies to you.
“It creates a stronger access to care for those individuals that fall below 138 percent of the poverty level. That’s all this plan affects, it doesn’t affect anybody else," said Mississippi Hospital Association President and CEO Tim Moore. "A lot of these people are already working, they’re taking care of their family, and they struggle with trying to have insurance coverage.”
This is the MHA’s proposal to closing the coverage gap between Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. In Mississippi, many adults earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to be eligible for ACA Marketplace premium tax credits. Moore said he’s heard stories of people who have worked injured and sick in order to put food on the table.
“Folks, these are serious, these are real. These are things we’ve got to fix,” Moore said. “These are not the folks who are just not wanting to work. If you’ve got someone not able to work, they’re covered by Medicaid.”
Moore and other officials say Mississippi Cares could help reduce uncompensated care costs by 40 to 50 percent, which could offer much needed help to local hospitals and provide a more productive workforce.
“Mississippi Cares” would give low-paid, non-disabled adults working to provide for their families access to a plan that would mirror the Medicaid plan benefits for adults.
“There would be a modest premium to the participants so the participants can have some skin in the game,” Moore said. “We’ve run the models at $20 a month. That generates enough money that hospitals will handle just under half.”