News

Measure to protect patients from surprise medical bills dies

February 5, 2019, Mississippi Today, Anna Wolfe- Deeming it too controversial for an election year, Mississippi lawmakers killed a bill that aimed to increase protections for patients against enormous out-of-pocket medical bills. An overwhelming majority of Mississippians support anti-balance billing measures, according to a Mason-Dixon poll conducted on behalf of Mississippi Health Advocacy Program. Of the 625 Mississippi voters surveyed in January, 40 percent said they or a family member had received a surprise medical bill in the past. Eight-five percent said they support laws to protect patients against these bills by requiring providers and insurers to settle billing disputes themselves.  “The problem is twofold,” Roy Mitchell, director of Mississippi Health Advocacy Program said. “Many people don’t know exactly what balance billing is. Then once they’ve been balance billed, they don’t know where to go, how to get help.”


Blue States Set to Test Trump Official on Medicaid, ACA

February 10, 2019, WSJ, Stephanie Armour - Seema Verma, head of one of the most powerful federal health-care agencies, granted Republican states the authority to require that Medicaid recipients work to be eligible. Now, after November midterm elections that saw Democrats flip seven governorships and retake the House of Representatives, Democratic-run states are poised to ask for approval to expand coverage, including statewide single-payer or public health options.


New Medicaid barrier: Waivers ending retrospective eligibility shift costs to providers, patients

February 9, 2019, Modern Healthcare, Harris Meyer - As Last year, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami admitted an uninsured, low-income patient who stayed in the hospital for 86 days and ran up total charges of more than $1 million. It took the public hospital’s staff 65 days to complete a Medicaid application for the patient. Once it was approved, the Florida Medicaid agency covered bills for the previous 90 days, as per federal Medicaid policy in effect across the country since 1972. Jackson received a payment of $82,000, based on the state’s limit of 45 covered hospital days per year. But on Feb. 1, Florida ended retrospective Medicaid eligibility under a waiver granted by the CMS in November and effective through June, which likely will be extended. Now it will only cover claims back to the first day of the month in which an application is filed. The state projects this will save it and the federal government $100 million a year. The Trump administration so far has granted similar waivers to five other states.


Flu season spikes in Northeast Mississippi. What to do to keep yourself healthy

February 8, 2019, Daily Journal, Michaela Gibson Morris - As flu cases have spiked over the past week, area physicians and state health officials are encouraging people to keep their germs to themselves. “If you are diagnosed with the flu, make sure you stay home,” said said Dr. Michael Gibson at Barnes Crossing Family Clinic in Tupelo. Going back to work and school too soon is likely fueling the rapid spread of the virus and other respiratory illnesses. “The general rule is that you should be fever free for 24 hours without medicine,” said Dr. Curtis Glidewell at New Albany Family Medicine Clinic.


Senators Borrow From Baseball to Fix Surprise Medical Bills

February 7, 2019, Bloomberg, John Tozzi - In most markets, when a buyer and a seller can’t settle on a price, they walk away. Medicine is different. Doctors and insurance companies often sort out who owes what only after a patient has been treated, especially in emergencies. When they disagree, patients can end up with unexpected bills they can’t pay. Efforts to keep patients from getting stuck in the middle are gaining steam in Washington. Six senators sent a letter to health plans and providers this week seeking data on surprise medical billing. President Donald Trump pledged in January to stop unexpected medical bills.


Senators Borrow From Baseball to Fix Surprise Medical Bills

February 7, 2019, Bloomberg, John Tozzi - In most markets, when a buyer and a seller can’t settle on a price, they walk away. Medicine is different. Doctors and insurance companies often sort out who owes what only after a patient has been treated, especially in emergencies. When they disagree, patients can end up with unexpected bills they can’t pay. Efforts to keep patients from getting stuck in the middle are gaining steam in Washington. Six senators sent a letter to health plans and providers this week seeking data on surprise medical billing. President Donald Trump pledged in January to stop unexpected medical bills.