Status of Medicaid subject of hearing

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JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus is getting a jump start on next year's legislative session. It started with a Tuesday hearing to try to get a better understanding of the current state of affairs at the Division of Medicaid.

Members say they want to see how the $6.1 billion is being spent at the Division of Medicaid, with approximately $1 billion being state dollars.

"To see how that translates to services for our people around the state. That was very important to me," said caucus member Rep. John Faulkner.

Legislators took advantage of the chance to quiz the Division of Medicaid.

"We are focused, as y'all have heard me talk about, on providing the best coverage we can for the population we have and moving that needle. Making people healthier," said Tara Clark, deputy executive director of the Division of Medicaid.

One issue is lawmakers are being told Medicaid recipients are having trouble getting non-emergency transport to appointments.

"They don't have a right to choose when people's appointments are. Their job is to provide a service," said state Rep. Omeria Scott.

The legislature voted to increase the available elderly and disabled waivers this year. Those allow low income elderly or disabled individuals the ability to receive care outside of a nursing facility. But lawmakers say there's still a waiting list.

"We feel that there are some additional services that could be in a waiver situation for people that are trying to remain out of assisted living," said Scott.

Members know there will be new leadership next session and some form of Medicaid expansion could be on the table after years of pushing for it.

"We know from research the importance of it, from a health care standpoint, from an economic standpoint,' said Faulkner. "So, I'm hoping and praying that this is a jump start for it."

"We don't have an official agency position on that," Clark said in responding to questions.

The information gathered will help shape the caucus for next year's session.