How will possible changes to Obamacare affect Mississippi?
Daily Journal health reporter Michaela Morris (5:52) joins Derek and Brad on today’s episode to discuss that question, as Congress considers a replacement for the federal healthcare law.
One of the key issues to watch, Michaela said, will be what happens to federal Medicaid money. Currently, 760,000 Mississippians depend on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program for health care. And Mississippi receives a lot of federal money for the program, roughly $3 billion a year.
But Congress is looking to curb Medicaid spending, and the bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week – the American Health Care Act – would move to a block grant model that would cap the amount of money states receive. That could leave Mississippi in a financial hole and could impact individuals receiving care through Medicaid and hospitals that get Medicaid reimbursements. Medicaid serves poor children, poor pregnant women, disabled individuals and many of those living in nursing homes.
Michaela said another key issue will be how the law treats pre-existing conditions. On the one hand, there needs to be a mechanism to incentivize people to get health insurance before they are sick. At the same time, lawmakers need to be careful of not making it too difficult for some people to be able to afford coverage.
The issue now moves to the Senate, and it will be interesting to see what emerges. The Republicans hold a narrow majority in that chamber and may have a difficult time crafting a proposal that appeals to both far right and moderate members.
Meanwhile, Daily Journal Capitol Bureau chief Bobby Harrison (19:20) joins today’s episode to talk about the issue of a state lottery and whether it will be considered during June’s special session of the Mississippi Legislature.
Gov. Phil Bryant made headlines last week when he said he would consider including the enactment of a lottery in the special session with the funds being used for transportation needs, if the Mississippi Economic Council supports the idea.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Philip Gunn formed a commission to study the possibility of a lottery, although he also made it clear he does not support having one. And Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has said he doesn’t want to see any issues considered in the special session other than the three budget bills that must be passed.
But the issue of a lottery keeps coming up, and that could mean momentum is building for it to eventually be passed some time in the near future.
And we’re also joined by Daily Journal chief photographer Thomas Wells (26:43), who discusses his recent photo essay on cemetery art. Thomas notes that many people fail to appreciate the craftsmanship on the hand-made carvings that can be found cemeteries throughout Northeast Mississippi.