Finding ways to curb Medicaid growth may be toughest task

August 28, 2016, The Daily Journal, Bobby Harrison- Perhaps no task is more daunting for legislators looking for ways to rein in state spending than the budget for the Division of Medicaid. The “working groups” formed by Lt. Gov. and House Speaker Philip Gunn to look at state spending issues recently took the first step in dealing with the federal-state Medicaid program. “How do we reduce the size of the dollars” going to Medicaid, Gunn asked the agency’s executive director, David Dzielak, at a recent hearing of the working group. “We’re starting in a pretty big hole,” Dzielak replied. “We are 50th in every (health care) category,” meaning Mississippi has a lot of unhealthy people who are placing a drain on the state’s revenue.

Mississippi needs every federal dollar it can get

August 28, 2016, The Daily Journal, Bill Crawford- Let’s get real. Ignore political ideology for a moment. Mississippi is a poor state, persistently landing near the bottom on income, health, and education rankings. Many families depend heavily on federal benefits to survive. So, too does state government (44 percent of total spending). Many small businesses’ survival depends heavily on federally subsidized families and government. Yes, federal spending is out of control. Yes, we have too many people on the dole. But, the reality is we desperately need every federal dollar we can get.

Report For State Insurance Commissioners Offers Options To Improve Drug Access

August 26, 2016, Kaiser Health News, Michelle Andrews- As prescription drug costs continue to rise, ensuring that consumers have access to the drugs they need is a growing concern. Insurers blame the drug companies for high prices while drug companies blame insurers for restrictive plans. Consumers are stuck in the middle picking up a higher tab. Now a new study highlights strategies for states to help consumers in this tug of war. The report, by a group of patient and consumer advocates who are representatives to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), is being released today and will be presented this weekend at the summer meeting of the NAIC.

How Expanding Medicaid Can Lower Insurance Premiums for All

August 25, 2016, The New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz- The Obama administration for years has been pleading with states to expand their Medicaid programs and offer health coverage to low-income people. Now it has a further argument in its favor: Expansion of Medicaid could lower insurance prices for everyone else. A new study published by in-house researchers at the Department of Health and Human Services compared places that have expanded their Medicaid programs as part of Obamacare with neighboring places that have not. They found that, in 2015, insurance in the marketplace for middle-income people cost less in the places that had expanded Medicaid.

Coming into Its Own: ‘Obamacare’ Gets a Shakedown

August 24, 2016, Jackson Free Press, Arielle Dreher-  “Retention, retention, retention!” Keri Abernathy is a program manager at Health Help Mississippi, which is dedicated to helping Mississippians access resources available through the division of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. She was telling a group of community stakeholders that the nonprofit’s buzzword for the year had to be “retention” in order to ensure that Mississippians enrolled in the federal health insurance marketplace can then re-enroll at the end of 2016. Mississippians using the federal health marketplace, also known as “Obamacare, “will have fewer options than last year-largely due to United Healthcare’s exit from the state’s system, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2017.

White House: Most ObamaCare users will be shielded from premium spikes

August 24, 2016, The Hill, Sarah Ferris- The White House released data Wednesday showing the vast majority of ObamaCare customers would be shielded from double-digit premium hikes that are expected to hit most of the country this fall. Even if premiums increased by a whopping 50 percent, most ObamaCare customers would still pay $100 or less per month for coverage, according to a 12-page report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Rising premium costs have grabbed attention across the country, but the government’s new data show that most people wouldn’t face bigger bills because their ObamaCare subsidies would go up along with their costs.