Ad Spot

Ladies and gentlemen: The situation is bleak

By Staff
May 26, 2002
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's press office last week distributed a package of reports prepared for the National Governors Association on "The Fiscal Survey of States" and "Medicaid and Other State Healthcare Issues: The Current Situation."
Most of the information contained in the 65 pages is depressing.
According to the reports, the national recession and the economic fallout of September 11 combined with the explosion in Medicaid spending caused a $40 to $50 billion budget shortfall, the most ever, in fiscal 2002. As a result 39 states were forced to reduce their enacted budgets by about $15 billion, tap into so-called rainy day funds and transfer money from other reserves.
In short, folks, the situation is bleak.
Fiscal pressures
Mississippi experiences similar fiscal pressures as do other states, perhaps more pronounced in the area of Medicaid. According to this report, Mississippians can expect a 37 percent increase in Medicaid funding needs in fiscal 2002, the fourth highest rate of growth in the country. Only Arizona, New Mexico and Washington state have higher rates of Medicaid growth.
This translates into a vicious upward spiral of spending that, as Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck told us the other day, has an adverse impact on every other program on which the state spends money.
Better planning seems to have been in place in every other southeastern state. Georgia, for example, projects no growth in Medicaid and Alabama only 0.2 percent. Perhaps it's time to ask: What are they doing right? Perhaps it's time to visit Georgia or Alabama and find out.
Tangled mess
Mississippi's Medicaid program which covers about one in every four residents  is a tangled mess of budget deficits and confusion. During the Musgrove administration, eligibility has been vastly expanded and costs have risen disproportionally to any standard measure of fiscal accountability.
No one is happy, lest of all the family members of Medicaid recipients who have been raking in mileage money from the program to take their relatives to the doctor. Just last week, the Medicaid program discovered about $3.9 million in money it didn't even know it had.
This is one of the two sorriest spectacles unfolding in state government today, the other being a piecemeal, half-hearted effort at civil justice reform that will address in a special legislative session the single issue of medical malpractice insurance.
Saying "Medicaid has reached the breaking point," the governors now want the federal government to bail them out of what they called "a particularly dire fiscal situation." They say the growth rate in Medicaid spending is "simply unsustainable. We need a short-term fix and a long-term strategy to reform the program."
We have no doubt that's true.
What we  at least those Mississippians whose tax money funds all levels of government  have a problem with is the tendency of government to simply shuffle money around from one expensive program to another under the facade of "reform." The act of moving money from one place to another will never create wealth.
It's a version of the old shell game and Congress should be very, very careful about opening up the treasury until serious efforts show real results at rooting out fraud and mismanagement in the Medicaid program.

News

BTCPA stages ‘Bad Year for Tomatoes’

Franklin County

County takes needed steps to continue broadband expansion

News

Russellville High School holds Community Partnership Breakfast to connect with community

News

Sign up now for youth rec sports through March 1

News

Russellville club names Bob Seeley Civitan of Year

Franklin County

New year brings official end to concealed carry permit requirement

Franklin County

Schools recognize Franklin County Board of Education

Columnists

Book Lovers Study Club submits 2022 reports

News

RHS alum receives Keller Key at UNA

Franklin County

Cattlemen convene for annual banquet

Belgreen Bulldogs

Belgreen hires football coach for fledgling program

News

City approves temporary fire department promotions

Franklin County

Commission decides to request bids for elevator maintenance

News

Whimsical window art brightens RPL

Belgreen Bulldogs

Belgreen gets football coach

Franklin County

Martin Luther King commemorative march takes place in downtown Russellville

Franklin County

New district attorney swears in

Franklin County

Cattlemen’s Association prepares for annual meeting

News

Russellville Public Library director speaks at Book Lovers meeting

Franklin County

Vina native returns to hometown church to share her story

Franklin County

Couple continues annual Christmas jail ministry

News

City officials reflect on old year, look toward new

Franklin County

MLK march returns to Russellville this year, set for Jan. 16

News

Council approves additional funding for Cramer Children’s Center

x