• 70°

MS Cares proponents share plan with locals

The chief executive officer of King’s Daughters Medical Center is trying to get the word out about Mississippi Cares, a program he believes will help cover the almost 300,000 Mississippi adults in the state who have no health insurance and are not currently eligible for Medicaid.

KDMC CEO Alvin Hoover brought Richard Robertson, the vice president of policy and state advocacy for the Mississippi Hospital Association, to Brookhaven Wednesday to speak to the Servitium club to explain the program to members.

“I’m passionate about it,” Hoover said. “It’s a way to help people in our state. It’s a way to help hospitals get paid for taking care of people who can’t afford to pay.”

The proposed plan would be a public-private partnership between the state, Mississippi hospitals, Mississippi True, and its plan members to create a healthier and more productive Mississippi, Robertson said. It will also sustain access to hospital care for Mississippi communities, to reform the Medicaid payment and delivery models and to stimulate Mississippi’s economy.

MHA’s proposal will reform the state’s Medicaid program.

“It is not straight-up Obamacare expansion as some political candidates like to refer to it as,” he said.

Robertson said public and private partnership of Mississippi Cares is similar to a plan Indiana created in 2008. The Affordable Care Act didn’t pass until 2010.

Indiana designed their program to have patients and providers have “skin in the game, which is true Medicaid reform,” he said.

While MHA modeled a lot of their program after Indiana’s, the Magnolia State has simplified it to require just a $20 monthly premium by qualified participants that would generate a portion of the state money that is needed to put up as matching funds, he said.

The federal government, as the law stands now, “from now through forever or until Congress changes it or does something different, is going to put up 90 percent of the money,” he said.

Robertson said the plan will pump more than $1 billion each year into Mississippi’s economy, create 19,000 jobs, improve personal income by over $600 million and increase general fund revenue by $50 million to $100 million.

It also reduces uncompensated care costs for hospitals, helps Mississippians access the healthcare they need when they need it and sustains access to hospital care, particularly in rural communities, he said.

Robertson said Mississippi Cares will cover non-disabled adults age 19-64 earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently approximately $17,000 for an individual or $35,000 for a family of four.

Plan participants would contribute $20 a month in premium payments, with a $100 co-pay for non-emergency use of a hospital emergency department if there is a federally qualified health center, rural health clinic or urgent care center within 20 miles of the hospital.

Other co-pays and plan benefits will mirror traditional fee-for-service Medicaid, with the exception of non-emergency transportation services. Dental and vision benefits will also be included. Non-employed plan members must enroll in a job training, education, or volunteer program, with certain exceptions.