Opposing Sides View Cuts Differently

Gov. Haley Barbour said at a Thursday news conference in Jackson that most Mississippians being removed from the Medicaid program have been contacted by the state and received help applying for free or discounted prescription drugs.

"This is something that's never been done by any state Medicaid office, to reach out individually to talk to more than 45,000 beneficiaries directly on the telephone to fill out their forms for them," said Barbour.

But Mary Troupe, director of the Coalition For Citizens With Disabilities, said Barbour is "caught up in his own spin."

"These individuals who are already Medicare beneficiaries, they are being cut from Medicaid. They're losing many different services," said Troupe. "Not only are they losing their pharmaceutical coverage but they're losing a lot of other coverage, such as most of us, we equate it to supplemental insurance coverage."

And Troupe contends the process is too difficult. State Rep. George Flaggs of Vicksburg, who voted for the cuts, agreed.

"State government should be better than this. I had a lady come into my office to use my computer that I did not have the intelligence to use. She downloaded a stack of information that said only at the end, you qualify for Medicare," Flaggs said.

Attorney General Jim Hood has asked a federal court to delay the cuts long enough for lawyers to find out whether people losing Medicaid coverage have been given enough notice about other options.

The governor said a statistical analysis of more than 300 random cases indicated 75 percent of the most needy recipients will not pay any more in out of pocket expenses.

The scheduled changes are slated to take effect Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.