We hope this life-saving proposal doesn’t go up in smoke

January 3, 2018, Sun Herald, The Editorial Board- The Mississippi Legislature should raise the cigarette tax $1.50 a pack, at least. The Main reason we support this tax increase is Mississippians don’t have to pay it if they don’t want to. All they have to do is stop smoking. And that would be good for everyone. First and foremost, it would save lives. You would think anyone who enjoys life would give up smoking. Statistics indicate otherwise. Once a teen lights up. the smoke affects his or her brain within seconds. Soon, they’ll find it hard to wrench themselves from nicotine’s warm embrace. Scientists and doctors in 1987 concluded nicotine addiction is harder to kick than heroin. A tax increase could help, the three groups say.

Tobacco tax, college desegregation money among 2018 issues

January 1, 2018, Daily Journal, Emily Wagster Pettus and Jeff Amy- Mississippi lawmakers have a long to-do list in 2018, with the three-month session starting at noon Tuesday. TOBACCO TAX- Mississippi last increased its cigarette tax in 2009. Now, about 20 health advocacy groups are pushing a cigarette tax increase of $1.50 a pack, plus “parallel” increases on chewing tobacco. The two Republican leaders of the tax-writing committees - House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith of Columbus and Senate Finance Chairman Joey Fillingane of Sumrall - said chances of approving the full request are slim. Advocates say an additional $1.50 a pack could generate about $200 million a year for the state budget and make smoking and dipping more expensive to deter young people from starting a tobacco habit that could cause long-term health problems. Mississippi’s 68 cents a pack is the 39th-highest cigarette tax among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The average state cigarette tax is $1.72 a pack, according to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a Washington-based supports making cigarettes more expensive.

Why the U.S. Spends So Much More Than Other Nations on Health Care

January 2, 2018, The New York Times, Austin Frakt and Aaron E. Carroll- The United States spends almost twice as much on health care, as a percentage of its economy, as other advanced industrialized countries - totaling $3.3 trillion, or 17.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2016. But a few decades ago American health care spending was much closer to that of peer nations. What happened? A large part of the answer can be found in the title of a 2003 paper in Health Affairs by thePrinceton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt: “It’s the prices, stupid.“The study, also written by Gerard Anderson, Peter Hussey and Varduhi Petrosyan, found thatpeople in the United States typically use about the same amount of health care as peoplein other wealthy countries do, but pay a lot more for it.

Mississippi lawmakers to convene 2018 session: a look at issues

January 1, 2018, The Clarion-Ledger, Geoff Pender- Lawmakers convene the 133rd regular session of the Mississippi Legislature at noon on Tuesday, with the session scheduled to run through April 1. Here’s a look at some of the major issues legislators are expected to tackle this session: Medicaid-The state-federal health program that covers one in four Mississippians - mostly children - legally sunsets in 2018, and lawmakers are expected to consider many changes as they reauthorize the program. Lawmakers are expected to re-examine and debate the managed care contracts with private companies and whether they are providing the savings promised and look at issues such as the number of doctor visits or prescriptions allowed patients. They are also expected to debate moving eligibility oversight to the Department of Human Services. The agency has also requested an extra $47 million be added to its current-year $920 million budget to cover costs through June 30.

Medicaid, infrastructure among priorities in 2018 Legislative Session

December 30, 2017, The Meridian Star, Jim Brock- Local lawmakers are ready to dive headfirst into the regular session of the 2018 Mississippi Legislature, which begins on Jan. 2. And of the state’s myriad issues up for discussion and possible action, Medicaid will definitely be among the top priorities. House Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden said Medicaid, the government health insurance program that covers 1 in 4 Mississippians, is up for review in 2018. The leadership continues to support managed care, a cost-monitored system that only allows patients to visit certain providers. But proponents say the system improves Medicaid by eliminating costly trips to the emergency room and focusing on preventative care.

Obamacare barely survived 2017. How’s 2018 look?

December 30, 2017, NBC News, Benjy Sarlin- After a year in which Obamacare’s fate hung by a thread, 2018 is likely to feature fewer mortal threats. But the next 12 months could still be a tumultuous period as insurers, customers and elected officials react to major changes to the law by the Trump administration and the Republican Congress. Republicans tried without success throughout 2017 to repeal and replace Obamacare, but there’s little indication they plan on pursuing another serious push next year. President Donald Trump told supporters after the last health bill failed that Republicans had the votes to pass repeal in 2018 once a hospitalized senator who was neither hospitalized nor a decisive vote returned, but it was a face-saving bluff. Now with Sen.elect Doug Jones,D-Ala., set to take office and midterms getting closer, the math is even harder.