Medicaid presents budget request for fiscal year 2016
This morning the Mississippi Division of Medicaid (DOM) had it’s annual presentation to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and requested more than $1 billion for the first time, for fiscal year 2016. To be specific, this year the agency is asking the Legislature for an appropriation of $1,015,308,843. Despite the potential for sticker shock, Dr. David J. Dzielak, DOM executive director, says the request only amounts to a $30 million increase over the fiscal year 2015 proposed budget.
“Each year I’ve asked for a certain amount of money, only to be underfunded every year. If we were funded at what we requested last year, we’re really only asking for an additional $30 million, a 3.1 percent increase. So while the numbers are big, the difference between the requests isn’t that great. It’s been a gradual increase from year to year,” said Dzielak.
He indicates the reason for the increase boils down to two things – ever escalating costs for medical services and a sharp rise in the number of enrollees.
As of the end of September, DOM has added 60,838 beneficiaries since the beginning of the calendar year. That spike in enrollees is largely tied to the new federally mandated Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) limits, which went into effect Jan. 1, raising the income maximum for eligibility by about nine percent. Those changes were mandatory requirements implemented by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“The other driving force could be the ‘welcome mat’ population,” Dzielak said, “which is that population who were already eligible for Medicaid but had never signed up. And with the increased awareness of the need for health insurance resulting from the launch of Healthcare.gov last year, that may be why more people are coming in to see if they’re eligible.”
Later in the fall, the office of Gov. Phil Bryant will issue an executive budget request for lawmakers to consider. Then during the 2015 legislative session, both requests will be considered by the House and Senate appropriations committees and together those committees will decide on the final state budget.