Mississippi Lawmakers OK Change In Medicaid Spending Bill

The Legislature, meeting in special session Tuesday, removed a restriction that would have let Medicaid spend only a quarter of its budget every three months.

Sen. Jack Gordon, D-Okolona, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said with efforts under way to find ways of saving money in the program, addressing the issue now could prevent a special session on Medicaid in the future.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said Medicaid will have sufficient funding through January, when the Legislature convenes the 2003 session. Gordon said the bill will let Medicaid officials tailor spending to needs within programs authorized by lawmakers. Lawmakers also can expect some cost savings enacted in the 2002 session to begin to impact the Medicaid program by January, Gordon said.

Sen. Charlie Ross, R-Brandon, argued Medicaid's poor record of living within its budget was ample reason to retain the spending cap. There was little debate in either chamber.