Plan to assist poor Mississippians with medical health insurance stripped from latest federal bill – InsuranceNewsNet


The budget reconciliation bill approved over the weekend by Democrats within the U.S. Senate and now pending a vote within the House doesn’t provide help for poor Mississippians attempting to obtain medical health insurance.

While generally praising the bill, Sharon Parrott, president of the Washington D.C.-based Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, said, “Nevertheless, the present bill does nothing to make reasonably priced coverage available to the greater than 2 million individuals with incomes below the poverty line who’re uninsured because their states have refused to adopt the Medicaid expansion. The general public within the Medicaid coverage gap live within the South and three in five are people of color.”

An earlier version of the bill, considered last fall, provided a mechanism for people living under the federal poverty level (about $13,550 annually) to acquire medical health insurance. The proposal was designed specifically to offer a health care option for the poor within the 12 states, including Mississippi, which have not expanded Medicaid. But on the time Senate Democratic leadership couldn’t muster the 50 votes needed to pass what’s generally known as the reconciliation bill. Democratic senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona rejected the far-reaching $3.5 trillion bill for various reasons, not necessarily related to the health care provision.

Over the weekend, Sinema and Manchin got on board to assist pass a scaled-down, $669 billion version of the reconciliation bill – called the Inflation Reduction Act – that provided quite a few items, including:

– Various tax credits and other incentives for electric vehicles and other green energy technology.

– A 15% minimum tax on large corporations.

– Caps on insulin for Medicare recipients.

– A provision that enables Medicare to barter the prices of medicine.

– Continuing subsides to assist people purchase private insurance on the health care marketplace exchange.

The health care provision that was in the sooner version of the bill but faraway from last week’s proposal would allow those falling under the federal poverty level to acquire private health care coverage paid for by the federal government on the health care exchange.

Under current law, individuals who earn below the federal poverty level don’t qualify for marketplace policies.

Two million Americans could access health care coverage through the plan, with the majority of those being in Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, in keeping with an evaluation by Judith Solomon, a health policy analyst with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Primarily Republican politicians in Southern states have been against Medicaid expansion.

In Mississippi, studies have estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 primarily working Mississippians could qualify for coverage if the state would expand Medicaid.

If Mississippi were to expand Medicaid under current law, the federal government would pay 90% of the health care costs with the state paying the rest. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn and others have argued Mississippi cannot afford the prices of expanding Medicaid, though multiple studies have found that the expansion, including the infusion of billions of dollars in federal funds, would actually increase state revenue collections.

In fact, still dangling in front of the non-Medicaid expansion states is a large incentive to expand Medicaid. The federal American Rescue Plan, passed in early 2021 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, provides additional incentive for states to expand Medicaid. The motivation in Mississippi to expand Medicaid is greater than $600 million over a two-year period.

The Inflation Reduction Act will likely pass the House in the approaching days and be sent to President Joe Biden, who is predicted to sign it into law.

— Article credit to Bobby Harrison of Mississippi Today


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