May 13, 2016, Mississippi Public Broadcasting- The state Division of Medicaid is facing budget deficits that could keep doctors and hospitals in the state from getting paid for providing health care. Medicaid is one of many state agencies staring down reduced budgets next fiscal year. Many are cutting services and laying off staff. Medicaid helps low income Mississippians get health care they ordinarily would go without. Money for Medicaid comes from the state and federal governments. Proportionately, Mississippi gets more federal dollars than any other state for Medicaid. Division of Medicaid chief David Dzielak told MPB’s Paul Boger it’s possible a financial emergency might have to be declared by the governor.

Major Medicaid managed-care reforms hand the ball to states. Will they run with it?

April 30, 2016, Modern Healthcare, Bob Herman and Shannon Muchmore- The key word defining the first significant federal changes to Medicaid managed care in 14 years is “flexibility”-for states, that is.The CMS laid the responsibility of ensuring that some of the country’s poorest residents receive timely, high-quality care to the 39 states and the District of Columbia that contract with private managed-care plans to provide Medicaid services. But those states will need money, manpower and some detailed direction to implement the provisions of the sweeping Medicaid managed-care rule. And some states are more prepared than others to meet the challenge. That could lead to disparities in the improvements to healthcare quality and access the regulations seek to achieve.

Will Medicare’s physician payment overhaul drive more docs to hospitals?

April 27, 2016, Modern Healthcare, Ben Kutscher and Adam Rubenfire- The CMS on Wednesday began to answer some of the many questions about how physicians will get paid under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. But some stakeholders were immediately dissatisfied with what they saw, and the 963-page rule may have raised as many questions as it answered. The rule provided more clarity around the CMS’ proposed Quality Payment Program, which consolidates three existing payment models: the Physician Quality Reporting System, the Physician Value-based Payment Modifier and Medicare’s incentive program for achieving meaningful use of electronic health records.

Plateau But No Decline: Child Obesity Rates Hold Steady

April 26, 2016, NPR, Allison Aubrey- When it comes to reversing the obesity epidemic, there have been glimmers of hope that the U.S. might be making headway, especially with young children. For instance, back in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented declines in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in many states. And case studies in cities including Kearney, Neb., Vance, N.C., and New York , N.Y., have reported progress, too. But a new study published in the journal Obesity concludes that - though the prevalence of obesity among U.S. children has plateaued in recent years - there is no indication of a national decline.

Healthcare shocker: These insurers are making money on Obamacare

April 27, 2016, Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik- The pending departure of the big insurance company UnitedHealth from most of the Affordable Care Act exchanges that it serves has prompted critics of Obamacare proclaiming the coming “death spiral” of the insurance reform. The critics aren’t talking so much about the insurers who are reporting profits from the program. Their experience shows how the ACA can be made to work for customers and insurers alike. The most encouraging news came Tuesday from Centene, a St. Louis insurer that doubled down on the ACA, as well as other lines of business, by acquiring Woodland Hills-based Health Net earlier this year

Feds issue new standards for Medicaid insurance plans

April 25, 2016, MS News Now, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar- The Obama administration Monday set new standards for Medicaid private insurance plans, which in recent years have become the main source of coverage for low-income people. The rules apply to insurers operating as Medicaid middlemen in 39 states and Washington, DC. Each state runs its own program, although the federal government pays most of the cost. Private insurers now provide coverage to about two-thirds of the more than 70 million Medicaid recipients, and the rules had not been updated for more than 10 years.