News

Campaign Money May Be Driving Medicaid Issue

August 8, 2019, The Northside Sun, Tim Kalich - Consider the following scenario. An outside entity approaches Mississippi and says that it wants to invest a billion dollars a year in the state indefinitely and create thousands of new jobs. The only catch is that the state has to put up $100 million a year, too. The governor and other state leaders balk because they are not sure about coming up with their part, even though a respected national economist has shown that the business activity generated by that outside entity’s investment will produce at least an extra $100 million in new tax revenue, and possibly double that. To convince the governor further, the companies that expect to do business with this billion-dollar-a-year investor offer to kick in the $100 million match by drawing from their own coffers and charging a modest monthly fee to their customers.The governor still thumbs his nose at the offer. What would be the reaction? A movement to have the governor declared mentally incompetent and removed from office? Most likely.


Coordinating Care Of Mind And Body Might Help Medicaid Save Money And Lives

August 7, 2019, NPR, Blake Farmers - In modern medicine, the mind and body often stay on two separate tracks in terms of treatment and health insurance reimbursement. But it’s hard to maintain physical health while suffering from a psychological disorder. So some Medicaid programs, which provide health coverage for people who have low incomes, have tried to blend the coordination of care for the physical and mental health of patients, with the hope that it might save the state and federal governments money while also improving the health of patients like John Poynter of Clarksville, Tenn. Poynter has more health problems than he can even recall. “Memory is one of them,” he says, with a laugh that punctuates the end of nearly every sentence. He is currently recovering from his second hip replacement, related to his dwarfism. Poynter is able to get around with the help of a walker - it’s covered in keychains from everywhere he’s been. He also has diabetes and is in a constant struggle to moderate his blood sugar.


When bad news gets to be too much

August 7, 2019, CNN, AJ Willingham - Maybe it happened for you after the Parkland or San Bernardino shootings. Or when attacks in France, Brussels, New Zealand and other faraway regions came in such quick succession there wasn’t time for mourners of one trauma to disperse before the next took its place. Maybe it was earlier—after Sandy Hook or maybe even Columbine. Maybe it’s happening for you now after the Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton shootings. No matter when it happened, what you felt is how sadness and prayer can harden into palpable exhaustion. This constant churn of harrowing news is physically and psychologically unhealthy, and you don’t need to be directly involved in a tragedy to feel its effects. To any concerned viewer, this pain can feel unavoidable or even necessary. It might be a little bit of both. The truth is, in an age of unfettered access to the worst of humanity, we have to act as our own gatekeepers if we want to stay sane.


El Paso shooting heightens ‘tremendous fear’ of daily life for Latinos in Mississippi

August 6, 2019, Alissa Zhu, Mississippi Clarion Ledger - In the wake of a deadly mass shooting in Texas, many members of Mississippi’s Latino immigrant community are shocked and anxious. That’s according to Luis Espinoza, an organizer with Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, also known as MIRA. “Parents, even kids, get scared because they don’t know how it’s going to be when they go back to school,” said Espinoza, who is originally from Ecuador and has lived in Mississippi for about 20 years. On Saturday morning in El Paso, a 21-year-old man opened fire in a Walmart, killing at least 22 and wounding 24. Investigators believe the suspect, who is white, posted a racist and anti-immigrant “manifesto” online shortly before the shooting. The document made claims of an “Hispanic invasion” of Texas and the author was against “race mixing,” according to authorities.


Short-term health plans spend little on medical care

August 6, 2019, Modern Healthcare, Shelby Livingston - For every dollar in premiums that UnitedHealthcare collected from people enrolled in short-term health plans last year, it spent less than 40 cents on patients’ medical claims. Short-term plans sold by Cambia Health Solutions, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in four states and sells short-term plans through its LifeMap subsidiary, spent even less on medical care, paying out just 9 cents for every dollar in premiums. These low “loss ratios”-which show the percentage of premiums spent on medical claims and were published last week in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ 2018 Accident and Health Policy Report-are a stark reminder that short-term plans benefit insurance companies more than the patients who purchase them. The data bring into question what kind of value people receive from enrolling in a short-term health plan, insurance experts said. The Trump administration expanded access to such plans last year.


Arkansas shows Medicaid expansion can work in Mississippi: Column

August 6, 2019, The Clarion Ledger, Dr. Joe Thompson - Mississippi, like most Southern states, has thus far opted not to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. That could change: Most of the declared candidates for governor, including two Republicans, have said they support some form of Medicaid expansion. The number of states participating in Medicaid expansion has been growing steadily. Currently, Mississippi is one of only 14 states continuing to opt-out while states embracing expansion have received billions of federal dollars to provide needed health care coverage to low-income people.  was Arkansas’ surgeon general in 2013 when the state, then led by a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled legislature, created an innovative approach using Medicaid expansion funds to purchase private health plans for people earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Known informally as the “private option” and now officially as Arkansas Works, the program provides coverage to about 250,000 Arkansans. Arkansas is now a firmly red state, yet it has reauthorized the program every year. Why? The numbers tell the story.