Jones: Keeping beneficiaries healthy saves money

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 20, 2004
The executive director of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid wants program beneficiaries to seek routine health care from a medical clinic setting, rather than relying on more expensive emergency room visits.
Dr. Warren A. Jones, a family physician and Medicaid director, said the patient care concept will save money by keeping Medicaid recipients healthier .
The Medicaid program is going through some changes to save money. The most controversial plan of action is that Poverty Level Aged and Disabled beneficiaries will lose their Medicaid prescription drug coverage this year. They will have to rely on Medicare assistance for their medicine.
Jones said cutbacks are necessary. He said the PLAD program was expanded in Mississippi when Medicaid had a $150 million surplus. Now, he said, it is operating at an annual deficit in excess of $200 million.
Because the Medicare program does not typically cover as much of the cost of medicine as people in the PLAD program are accustomed to under Medicaid, Jones said beneficiaries and their families may face some hardships for a while.
But, he said the state is coming up with resources that will help, and that corporate citizens are starting to offer assistance.
Jones said Florida's Medicaid program operates on about $14 billion. He said the Medicaid program in Mississippi is about a $3.5 billion program.
Jones said the same thing could happen in Mississippi if the growth isn't stopped and if efforts aren't made to help people be healthier.

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