When it comes to the legislative session in Jackson these days, District 83 Rep. Greg Snowden says things are tense to say the least.
"There's no consensus on how this should work. We know we've got to make cuts in Medicaid, but nobody's anxious to do it."
Currently, Mississippi's Medicaid budget is $268 million short of what it needs to function. With the agency's funding set to be depleted by March 1, something must be done and quickly.
"We know we've got to find funding for the Medicaid deficit, but nobody really wants to raise taxes or go into the tobacco trust fund, and certainly we're going to have to do one or the other to fix the deficit," says Snowden.
Conference committees have now been formed to address this issue. They are made up of several lawmakers from the state House and Senate who were appointed by the lieutenant governor and speaker of the house.
Meanwhile, the mounting concern among many Medicaid recipients is how this could affect them if no action is taken by next week? While certain federal laws are in place which could require hospitals to treat Medicaid patients even if they agency is broke, the same safeguards are not necessarily in place for pharmacies, something which could create another problem.
"This is going to be tough for the patients too because they're going to have to decide if they're kicked off the program, 'Do I take my diabetic medicine? If I can't afford my diabetic medicine and my two different types of blood pressure medicines, which one is most important?' and that's where we're going to have to work with the patients and physicians and try to help these people out," says pharmacist Don Waldron, Jr. with Mr. Discount Drugs in Meridian.
While lawmakers are expected to definitely take some kind of action on the issue, exactly what that will be is still not certain. However, one thing that is for sure is that no matter what action is taken, it will likely be taken very soon!