March 20, 2017, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Evelina Burnett- The president of Mississippi’s medical association is speaking out against budget cuts at the state health department. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports. The health department, like most other state agencies, has already faced several rounds of cuts and its budget is likely to shrink next year too as the state faces another year with revenue below expectations. Dr. Lee Voulters is president of the Mississippi State Medical Association. He says he understands there are budget cuts everywhere, “but what is more important than the health of our community? We must protect our drinking water. We must protect restaurants. We must protect our citizens against Zika virus, against tuberculosis, and all these communicable diseases, and we cannot do that without a viable and functioning department of health.”
March 19, 2017, The Daily Journal, Bobby Harrison- Medicaid officials still are saying the health care agency will need an additional $89 million in state funds to get through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. At this point, legislation is alive that would provide Medicaid a maximum of $43 million - less than half of what Medicaid Executive Director David Dzielak said as late as last week is needed for the current fiscal year. “We’re going to look for extra money. I don’t know where,” House Appropriations Chairman John Read, R-Gautier, told colleagues recently when explaining the budget holes facing Medicaid and other agencies because of sluggish revenue collections.
March 19, 2017, The New York Times, Associated Press- Among the groups hardest hit by the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act is one that swung for Donald Trump during last year’s presidential race - older Americans who have not yet reached Medicare age. Many of those who buy their own health insurance stand to pay a lot more for their coverage. That is especially true for the nearly 3.4 million older Americans who have enrolled through the government marketplaces, many of whom receive generous federal subsidies through the health care law enacted under former President Barack Obama. Health care experts predict those older adults will end up buying skimpier plans with lower coverage and higher deductibles because that’s all they will be able to afford.
March 18, 2017, The Washington Post, Max Ehrenfreund- Republicans moved to require able-bodied, poor Americans to work in order to receive publicly funded health insurance through Medicaid on Thursday, advancing a long-held goal of conservative reformers. These work requirements address a common concern of policymakers around public-assistance programs: that the poor will not look for work, because if they earned more, they might no longer be poor enough to qualify for help. Additionally, for Republicans and many Democrats, work requirements are a matter of fairness. “When Medicaid was created, it wasn’t intended to become an entitlement for able-bodied adults,” said Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), introducing the proposal to include Medicaid work requirements in Republicans’ health care bill.
March 18, 2017, CNBC, John W. Schoen- A GOP-proposal to shift health-care costs to the states has many governors worried that the plan would create a financial squeeze on their budgets. Now, municipal bondholders can share those concerns. The Republican-proposed bill to replace Obamacare would hurt the credit ratings for U.S. states, according to Moody’s Investors Service, because it would shift a greater share of the cost of Medicaid to the states. That could raise borrowing costs for states and lower the value of bonds already held by investors. The joint state-federal Medicaid program for low-income households grew rapidly under the six-year-old Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, and has been consuming a larger share of many state budgets every year.
March 16, 2017, The Clarion Ledger, Jerry Mitchell- University of Mississippi Medical Center officials on Thursday announced a decision to layoff 195 workers in an attempt to cope with a $32.7 million cut in revenue from the state. That cut is so big “it’s impossible for any organization mid-year to absorb that and continue on, business as usual,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. Another 85 open positions also are being cut to address the shortfall, of which $24 million hospital leaders said was unanticipated. In addition, 439 faculty members at the teaching hospital have taken pay cuts.