Boosting Medicaid Rates Insufficient in Mississippi – A Deeper Solution Needed



Cecil Brown, a former legislator, argues that Governor Reeves’ proposal to add $700 million to hospital funding is inadequate and that a full Medicaid expansion is necessary. Brown states that many Mississippi hospitals are at risk of closing due to financial strains, in part due to losses on Medicare and Medicaid patients and unpaid bills by patients under “fee for service.” He criticizes the governor’s plan, which seeks additional federal funds and increased taxes on hospitals, and supports Commissioner Brandon Presley’s proposal for Medicaid expansion, which has shown positive results in states that have adopted it, such as reduced numbers of uninsured low-income individuals and improved healthcare outcomes.

Medicaid Proposal by Governor Reeves Insufficient, Says Former Legislator

Former legislator Cecil Brown argues that Governor Reeves’ Medicaid proposal, which aims to provide an additional $700 million in hospital funding, is insufficient. He suggests that a full Medicaid expansion is necessary.

Many Mississippi hospitals are at risk of closure, with projected numbers ranging from 27 to over 40. Financial issues are the primary cause, with disruptions in medical delivery systems and patient preferences contributing to the problem nationwide.

Hospitals typically suffer losses from both Medicare and Medicaid patients and experience significant write-offs from “fee for service” patients who fail to pay their bills. This combination of losses is known as uncompensated care.

Both major candidates for the upcoming governor’s election have proposed solutions utilizing additional federal Medicaid funds. However, either proposal requires federal approval. Medicaid is a joint federal/state health insurance program for individuals who cannot afford private insurance or do not have access to an employer-provided health plan.

Governor Reeves’ plan promises an annual additional $689 million to Mississippi hospitals from new federal funds and increased tax on Mississippi hospitals. However, questions surround the proposal’s feasibility and its late introduction in Reeves’ tenure.

Moreover, the governor’s program does not address insurance coverage for Mississippi’s uninsured, thereby not alleviating the uncompensated care related to unpaid patient bills.

Commissioner Brandon Presley, on the other hand, supports expanding Medicaid to cover roughly 200,000 uninsured Mississippians. Forty states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid with overwhelmingly positive results, including reduced uninsured rates, job creation, increased state budget revenues, and improved healthcare outcomes.

Projections indicate that Medicaid expansion could generate over one billion new dollars in annual revenue for Mississippi. Conversely, the Governor’s plan, while potentially beneficial for hospitals, does nothing to resolve other medical costs for patients. Almost 450,000 Mississippians, out of nearly 3 million, lack health insurance.

Without insurance, individuals must pay out-of-pocket costs or forego treatment, as hospitals are required to stabilize patients but not necessarily cure them. Federally qualified health centers can fill some gaps, but typically lack specialists and expensive diagnostic services.

There are notable differences in the financing of both plans. Governor Reeves’ plan projections stand at an additional $689 billion annually, while Medicaid expansion projections exceed $1 billion annually. The state match rate for Medicaid expansion is considerably less, at just 10% of the total cost.

Various studies and experiences from other states indicate that Medicaid expansion is cost-neutral to states. The combination of reduced uncompensated care at state hospitals and spinoff economic activity from newly created jobs would cover the states’ 10% share of the cost.

While neither option fully solves the hospital crisis, Medicaid expansion offers more money at less cost and assists in providing health insurance to Mississippi’s working poor.

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