FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

GOVERNOR HALEY BARBOUR CORRECTS MISINFORMATION AT MEDICAID FORUMS

(Jackson, Miss.) - Governor Haley Barbour today corrected misinformation distributed at regional Medicaid forums, which were reportedly organized by "advocacy groups" to inform state Medicaid recipients being transitioned to federal Medicare. The first two forums were held in Tupelo and Columbus today. Governor Barbour asked Division of Medicaid Executive Director Dr. Warren Jones to attend the forum to help inform recipients.

"We need to reassure our patients with the facts and help them get the best care possible - not scare them for political gain," said Governor Barbour. "These forums should be about helping, not Halloween," he added.

According to Medicaid staff, much of the information given at the forums was incorrect, including:

Inaccuracy: "People covered by both Medicare and Medicaid already have unlimited visits to physicians, emergency rooms, etc. and access to numerous hospital and home health days. They're not gaining anything new."

Correction: For people who have been dually eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare, they have to live by the Medicaid rules which place limits on their physician visits, hospital visits, emergency room visits, and home health visits. Under Medicare, all of these limits are either increased or eliminated. This is better than Medicaid.

Inaccuracy: "It will be impossible for the federal government to approve these waivers on July 1..."

Correction: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has told Mississippi Medicaid officials that it is not impossible to grant waivers on July 1. They are currently working on these very waivers we requested, knowing our July 1 deadline for coverage.

Inaccuracy: "Every dollar the state cuts from Medicaid results in the loss of more than $3 in federal matching funds...These cuts in Medicaid cost the (sic) Mississippi far more than they save and will leave the state poorer..."

Correction: Medicare routinely reimburses health care providers at a higher rate than Medicaid, with no required match from state taxpayers.
Therefore, instead of putting up $1 in state funds to get $3 in federal funds, the State of Mississippi will put up $0 to get more than $4 for physician visits, hospital visits, etc. Other significant savings in the Medicaid Reform Act target the profits of pharmaceutical companies - this does not impact the Mississippi health care economy.

PLADs recipients moving from Medicaid to Medicare have several options for getting their prescription drugs. They are eligible for the patient assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies that provide free and $15-per-month-or-less prescription drugs; a Medicare approved drug discount card providing 10-25% discounts; and a $1200 supplement
provided by the federal government.

"I understand that change can be difficult," Governor Barbour said.
"However, with these changes, the vast majority of recipients will have coverage that is as good or better than what they had. We need to help people understand that."

 


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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741
         

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