In this series, we are conducting a review of what Mississippi lawmakers have accomplished over the last 10 years. The list provided here is not comprehensive, and we feature only the policies we like: some of which were initiated by MCPP (marked by an *asterisk* below), some of which are good ideas we are happy someone else took the lead on.
In the first part of this series, we reviewed education accomplishments. In this part, we are looking at healthcare. After all, education and healthcare are essentially the two biggest priorities in the state budget. K-12 education is the single largest item in the state budget while healthcare (especially Medicaid) is the single largest item in the total state budget (federal and state revenue).
Healthcare policy in Mississippi over the past 10 years has been shaped largely by Obamacare. Mississippi’s response has mostly been limited to managing the damage.
In 2013, Mississippi became the only state to have its application to set up a state-based insurance exchange rejected by the Obama administration. This rejection, from our perspective, was a huge victory because it forced the administration to set up a federal health insurance exchange. The plan was to delay implementation of Obamacare until Republicans could repeal it … except the repeal never happened.*
At the same time, Mississippi is one of 12 states that has declined to expand Medicaid to able-bodied, working-age adults. This mandate was an original feature of Obamacare until the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down as an unconstitutional overreach by the federal government.* It was bad policy then, it remains bad policy now.
One of the high points of healthcare policy in Mississippi over the past few years has been the steady advance of Right to Try. This law waives federal regulations that often hinder the ability of patients with a terminal illness to take advantage of new medications and technologies. We initiated the first Right to Try law in Mississippi in 2015 (SB 2485). Thanks to the leadership of Senator Josh Harkins, the law was expanded in 2016 (SB 2527) and 2020 (SB 2830), making our Right to Try policies among the best in the country.*
Another high point are protections for direct primary care (SB 2687), passed in 2015. This law helped launch the direct care/concierge care movement in Mississippi. The law clarifies that patients can pay cash to see a doctor, instead of using an insurance plan.*
Mississippi also has one of the better telemedicine systems in place. Telemedicine has made a slow, steady advance in Mississippi over the last 10 years. A bill that would have expanded telemedicine further died in conference in 2021, but it’s likely telemedicine will continue to grow in Mississippi.*