Medicaid recipients search for answers

By Staff
MEDICAID CHANGES Dot Corbitt, far left, Joe Gomez, Joan Clay, Betty Little, Betty Stewart, back row far left, and Margaret Johnson read over information about Medicaid on Tuesday during a meeting at St. Patrick Catholic Church. About 20 people attended a meeting there sponsored by Meridian Community Living Center. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Erin Hilsabeck / staff writer
June 30, 2004
Shirley Griefe of Quitman uses both Medicaid and Medicare to pay for prescriptions that cost $1,200 a month.
Griefe, however, fears she won't be able to afford her medication after a new policy takes effect Sept. 15 that is expected to remove 65,000 Mississippians from the state-sponsored Medicaid program.
But for Griefe and others like her including some of the 20 who attended the hour-long meeting at St. Patrick Catholic Church's Family Life Center help could be on the way.
Cindy Davidson, an employee with the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, said federal waivers could help people continue to receive assistance from the Medicaid program.
The federal government, though, has not yet formally approved the waivers.
Informational meeting
Davidson's message was similar to those discussed at other meetings around the state in recent weeks as the deadline approached for removing the 65,000 people from Medicare rolls.
The original deadline was Thursday.
Instead, Gov. Haley Barbour extended the deadline to Sept. 15. He said the delay will allow more time to make sure Medicaid recipients are enrolling in the federal Medicare program.
The 65,000 recipients will be cut from Medicaid in an attempt to shift medical costs to the federal Medicare program. Federal law requires all states to shift this group to Medicare by Jan. 1, 2006.
The waivers Davidson spoke of include an independent living waiver, an assisted living waiver and an elderly and disabled waiver.
According to information provided by Davidson's office, the waivers would "provide continued Medicaid coverage for the most vulnerable populations affected by the discontinuation."
Prescription drugs
Whether or not a waiver is approved, Davidson said her agency will help people find a way to pay for their prescriptions. The Division of Medicaid's Meridian office is at 3848 Highway 45 N.
Davidson said Medicaid prescription holders who visit her office should make two lists: one with the names of the prescription drugs and another with the makers of those drugs.
Most of those who attended said they didn't blame anyone for the changes to the Medicaid program.
Griefe and her daughter, Kellie Crow, said they weren't aware about the possibility of a federal waiver to receive full Medicare benefits.

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