Mississippi lawmakers hear from doctors on what they’d like to see in next Medicaid tech bill

What's next for Medicaid in Mississippi?

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Doctors with different backgrounds are giving their opinions on how Medicaid is working in the state before lawmakers get down to the details of how it will run for the next three years.

Doctors aren’t asking for a full overhaul of the Medicaid system but do want some tweaks made. One thing Dr. Dustin Gentry says should remain is no cap on how many times those on Medicaid can go to the doctor. That was removed in 2018.

“It’s in your best interest to keep it that way because Just as soon as you start capping, they’re going to go into the emergency room and be put into the hospital on a more frequent basis,” said Gentry who is with the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians.

Another takeaway is that it’s not just care for adults they’re considering.

“Pediatricians are your Medicaid workforce," described President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Dr. John Gaudet. "2/3 of the children in Mississippi are on Medicaid.”

Coverage for women who’ve just delivered a baby has been extended to a full year because of the pandemic. OBGYNs are asking the state to consider putting a similar extension in for the future.

“The health care challenges that women face don’t end at the end of their pregnancy,” said Dr. Michelle Owens.

While Medicaid expansion wasn’t brought up by lawmakers, the president of the state medical association ended his remarks with this request.

“Inexcusably, we have forgone billions in federal assistance that would’ve helped our most vulnerable citizens," said Dr. Mark Horne. "We ask the legislature to act on expanding coverage in the upcoming session.”

The Mississippi Health Advocacy Program points to Medicaid expansion gaining new ground in other states that previously rejected it.

“COVID 19 has caused us to re-evaluate our healthcare policies and choices," said Roy Mitchell, MHAP Executive Director. "So, it’s time we re-evaluate our position on Medicaid expansion as well. Medicaid expansion has proven to save lives. We’ve got so far to go in correcting all the health inequities of this state. Let’s start with Medicaid expansion.”

The full legislature will consider what should be included in the Medicaid technical amendments bill when they return in January.

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