State’s leadership forms working groups to look at tax structure, spending

July 15, 2016, Daily Journal, Bobby Harrison- The state’s Republican political leadership announced the formation of “working groups” Thursday to look at how the state is collecting and spending revenue. “On the budget side, our goal is to examine how our tax dollars are spent and if those expenditures line up with our priorities,” House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said in a news release. “On the tax side, we want to examine the entire tax structure and develop a comprehensive plan that is both fair and provides a more solid stream of revenue.” Gunn, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Gov. Phil Bryant announced the study groups that will make recommendations to the full Legislature Thursday afternoon during a news conference at the state Capitol.

Health care has improved, study finds, but the changes are small

July 14, 2016, The Washington Post, Lateshia Beachum- California and Minnesota accounted for seven of the 10 leading areas: San Mateo, San Francisco and San Jose, plus St. Paul, Rochester, St. Cloud and Minneapolis. Among areas needing the most improvement, five were in Mississippi: Jackson, Meridian, Gulfport, Oxford and Hattiesburg.

The wrong state to have an accident

July 13, 2016, Politico, Rachana Pradhan- In December 2014, Donnie Gene Rippy fell off a roof while shooing away ducks, breaking his back and too many bones to count. He underwent four surgeries to fix his shoulder, wrists and vocal cords. Rippy, a brick mason, had the misfortune to be uninsured. But his bad luck was compounded by where his accident happened. If he had lived about 50 miles north-that is, anywhere over the Kentucky border-he wouldn’t have to rely on ibuprofen and occasional cortisone shots from a local health department for his persistent back and knee pain. Chances are good he would also have gotten treatment for the memory and mood issues that developed after the fall. And he wouldn’t be mired in more than $60,000 in medical debt.

Many Toddlers Fail To Get Necessary Medicaid Renewal At Their First Birthday

July 12, 2016, Kaiser Health News, Michelle Andrews- Many babies born to mothers who are covered by Medicaid are automatically eligible for that coverage during the first year of their lives. In a handful of states, the same is true for babies born to women covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Yet, this smart approach is routinely undermined by another federal policy that requires babies’ eligibility be reevaluated on their first birthday. Although they’re likely still eligible for coverage, many of these toddlers fall through the cracks.

Insurance premium tax only bright spot in state’s revenue stream

July 12, 2016, Mississippi Business Journal, Bobby Harrison- Surging revenue from Mississippi’s tax on insurance premiums has prevented what has been a dismal year for state revenue collections from being even worse While state revenue collections for the fiscal year that ended June 30 are down year over year for only the fourth time since at least 1970, revenue from the 3 percent tax on insurance premiums sold within the state skyrocketed by $50.1 million or nearly 23 percent. While the insurance premium revenue composes only a small portion (under 5 percent) of the state’s $6.3 billion budget, the revenue still was an unexpected boon for legislators dealing with budget woes.

HHS Report Says Obamacare Plans Are Cheaper Than They Look

July 12, 2016, NPR, Alison Kodjak-  Obamacare health plans have been getting a bad rap this year. Critics say the premiums are too high, the out-of-pocket costs are out of control, and the requirements and red tape are too thick. But now the Obama administration is pushing back. A study released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services argues that the cost-sharing isn’t nearly as heavy as previous analyses have shown, because most consumers get subsidies that limit their deductibles and copayments. “This comprehensive analysis makes clear that two key misconceptions about the market are incorrect,” said Christen Linke Young, principal deputy director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at CMS.