Medicaid Bailout Gets Green Light - - The News for South Mississippi

Medicaid Bailout Gets Green Light

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove signed a bill Wednesday to shore up Mississippi's financially starved Medicaid program, even though he says the plan won't cover the program's entire budget shortfall. ``On the whole, there are some tremendous benefits to the bill and some concerns about the bill,'' Musgrove said. He signed the bill just hours after it cleared the House 99-16 and the Senate 40-11. Lawmakers said it will cover most of a $158 million deficit for the budget year that ends June 30.

Musgrove said it would cover all but $29.5 million of the deficit and more cuts could be needed in the coming months. The plan cuts fees to doctors and most other providers by 5 percent, reduces the number of prescriptions available to patients each month and requires patients to pay more out of their own pockets for the prescriptions. A separate appropriations bill allows the state to transfer $108 million from a tobacco trust fund to Medicaid. Musgrove signed it late Wednesday.

With both bills signed, Medicaid will be able to pay doctors, hospitals and other providers this week, a few days late. The program ran out of money late last week, and officials have warned that providers might not be paid until problems are resolved.

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