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Medicaid makes changes to offset impact...

Medicaid makes changes to offset impact of COVID-19

By: Sarah Ulmer - March 25, 2020

Before the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, Director of Medicaid Drew Snyder said the program was in relatively good financial condition. When the first case of Coronavirus was diagnosed in Mississippi, Medicaid was looking to have roughly $40 million in special funds due to conscientious budgeting over the last few years.

They were also prepping for the expansion of telemedicine among providers, something that has since been approved and is helping Medicaid beneficiaries receive access to quality care during a time when hospitals and physicians are under strict lockdowns.

While elective procedures have been limited and social distancing implemented, a shift was made in Medicaid to allow more providers to offer telemedicine. They also changed the language to allow for an “originating site” to also include the patient’s home, allowing them to remain there while receiving treatment during this time.

While many of these changes are limited to the emergency, Snyder said they do plan to allow for more providers to participate in telemedicine moving forward.

With around 720,000 Mississippians currently rely on Medicaid, Snyder said the division is also working to secure more federal dollars which will allow flexibility as Coronavirus continues to spread.

Medicaid made a request for an 1135 Waiver which allows the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to waive federal requirements and remove some red tape that can prohibit access to needed services. The waiver streamlines provider enrollment processes and allows for care to be provided in alternative settings like the home. It also removes prior authorization requirements and can allow for the suspension of some nursing home screening requirements in order to provide administrative relief.

Mississippi is among states such as Alabama, Arizona, California, Louisiana, Virginia and others who have been granted the waiver.

Mississippi’s Division of Medicaid also submitted a 1915 (K) Waiver, which is a home community-based waiver. Right now, over 20,000 members of Medicaid receive service through home waivers. This typically impacts the most vulnerable of those who rely on the service.

Director of the Division of Medicaid, Drew Snyder

“This allows for things like an increased amount of home delivered meals,” said Snyder.

For Mississippi, this will now allow for at least two home meals to be delivered. This waiver will also give case managers the authority to provide certain services remotely.

Congress was also successful in passing legislation for a 6.2 percent increase in the federal match. Currently, Mississippi Medicaid is at a 76.98 percent federal match. This increase will get the state to 83.18 percent.  That match will free up roughly $70-$80 million dollars this quarter that the state would have been required to put in that now will not be required.

“That will have an impact on the agency, as well as providers, who put in part of the non-federal share for their programs,” said Snyder.

While Medicaid in Mississippi is working to combat the spread of COVID-19 through telemedicine and increased financial support, Snyder said it is simply too soon to tell what the full impact will be.

“The financial position we were in mid-March and the additional FMAP dollars, is that going to be enough? It’s way too soon to tell, but it is going to help,” said Snyder.

He said they do anticipate enrollment and utilization will both go up over the next few weeks and months.

Snyder added that he plans to keep a close eye on the finances and claims as they come in but hopes that the relatively firm financial position they were in before the crisis will have a positive impact as this event continues to strain state and federal budgets.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: