Medicaid Changes Postponed

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The governor announced Monday the cutoff date for 65,000 Medicaid recipients has been changed from July 1 to September 15.

Barbour said allowing two and one half months before implementation will enable recipients of Medicare to learn about programs of assistance that will be available to them.

State Sen. Terry Burton of Newton said he thinks the delay is a good idea.

"I definitely think so. The idea is a good idea to do what the governor wanted to do with the Medicaid recipients known as PLADS (Poverty Level, Aged and Disabled). That is, move them, the majority of them, who have the lowest income, who are the most ill, move them to the Medicare so the that Medicare pays for all of their health care," Burton said. "The state doesn't pay anything."

Rep. Greg Snowden of Meridian also agreed with the decision.

"It was very good news. We have, at least now until September, to get all the information available to Medicare recipients on how they can access the drug coverage that the governor is confident is there for them. So I think it's very good news. It's encouraging news and something we can build on," said Snowden.

But one person on Medicaid, Lynelle Harrell, sees it differently.

"I think it's just postponing the inevitable. And I'm really afraid people are going to become complacent and give up the fight," Harrell said, who said she wants the previous coverage reinstated until federal prescription drug coverage starts in 2006.

Barbour also announced Mississippi Medicaid beneficiaries who will be shifted to Medicare will be allowed to sign up in advance for their Medicare prescription drug cards.