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The below is one of many state fiascos you will see in the future as states struggle desperately with their Medicaid budgets. LTC makes up 34% of the Mississippi state budget, according to the AARP's "Reforming the Health Care System, State Profiles 2000". - Phyllis Shelton

Mississippi Medicaid Program in Limbo

3/1/2002 JACKSON, Miss., Mar 01, 2002 (AP Online via COMTEX) -- The state Medicaid program has been left in limbo with the Senate's rejection of a compromise financial bailout bill and the House's reluctance to reopen talks.

Medicaid, a federal-state program that provides health coverage for the needy, aged, blind and disabled, is running a $158 million deficit this budget year and officials expect the program to run out of money next week.

A bill that would have covered most of the Medicaid deficit through a combination of new fees, reimbursement reductions for most medical providers and money from a trust fund established with winnings from a tobacco lawsuit was rejected by the Senate Thursday in a 32-12 vote.

Medicaid Executive Director Rica Lewis Payton said she was frustrated by legislators' disagreement over solution for a program that covers 650,000 of Mississippi's 2.8 million residents.

"The Medicaid program in the state of Mississippi is too important not to adequately fund it," she said.

The Senate vote came about an hour after the House approved the same bill 77-40. The bill needs to clear both chambers to go to the governor.

House negotiators said they didn't know when they will meet again with their Senate counterparts.

"There's no sense of us going any further until the Senate decides what it's going to pass," said Rep. Steve Holland.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said Thursday the proposal has problems "too numerous to mention."

The bill would leave Medicaid about $17 million short in the fiscal year that ends June 30, he said. With a 3-to-1, federal-to-state match, that would leave the program about $68 million short.

Associated Press Writer

Copyright 2002 Associated Press, All rights reserved

Source: Long Term Care Provider.com Newsletter

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