Barbour Seeks Medicaid Waivers

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Gov. Haley Barbour met with federal officials Wednesday in Washington, D.C., about a waiver to continue state Medicaid coverage for 18,000 people with chronic illnesses.

The meeting took place the same day a Washington think tank issued a report calling Barbour's waiver proposal a highly inadequate substitute for the health coverage the patients now receive.

On Sept. 15, about 65,000 Mississippians are being cut from Medicaid. Most will be covered by Medicare, which is fully funded by the federal government.

But some patients worry that Medicare won't offer enough prescription drug coverage until January 2006.

The federal waiver would let Medicaid continue covering about 13,000 patients who need anti-rejection drugs after organ transplants or who need chemotherapy, kidney dialysis or anti-psychotic drugs.

It would also allow coverage for about 5,000 who don't immediately qualify for Medicare.