Mims supports Supreme Court Medicaid decision

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 9, 2012

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Medicaid with Medicare. The Affordable Health Care Act would have required Medicaid expansions. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — The chair of Mississippi’s House Public Health and Human Services Committee said he’s glad the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the requirement in the Affordable Health Care Act that would have required Mississippi to expand its Medicaid rolls.

Mississippi has a population of three million, with 600,000 residents currently receiving Medicaid benefits, Rep. Sam Mims (R -McComb) said. Mims was the guest speaker at the Natchez Rotary Club Wednesday.

Email newsletter signup

The required expansion would place one million people on Medicaid, Mims said.

“I don’t think that is something we should go out and cheer about, that we have a third of our population on Medicaid,” Mims said. “I have no idea how we would afford to expand Medicaid.”

The answer, Mims said after the meeting, is a holistic one that reaches well beyond Medicaid reform and instead encourages people to — among other things— stay in school and not have children out of wedlock.

“We need to try to change this culture and teach them that if they don’t drop out of school, if they learn a trade and don’t have children out of wedlock, they are going to be a lot more successful,” Mims said.

“I don’t believe government is the answer to all our problems, so when we have a population that is solely dependent on government, I don’t think that is something we need to be proud of. When there is a group of the population that has done all they can, they have tried and they still need Medicaid and the government is still there to help them, but we have gotten to the point where there are a lot more people depending on the government than they need to.”

When addressing the Rotary Club, Mims said three actions that came through the health committee during the 2012 legislative session stood out as really meaningful legislation to him.

One of those pieces of legislation was one Mims said garnered national — and even international — attention, House Bill 1390, which has the potential to effectively close Mississippi’s only abortion clinic.

The bill requires all physicians performing abortions to be board certified OB-GYNs and to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Mississippi has only one abortion clinic, the Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, and based on the new law is out of compliance.

“I know this is a social issue and is very controversial,” Mims said.

“This legislation is a regulatory requirement on the clinic in Jackson. This is a very serious procedure. We hope and pray nothing goes wrong during this procedure, but if it does we want that physician to be able to follow (the patient) to the hospital.”

Mims said that even though the clinic is currently out of compliance, under Mississippi law it has six months to come back into compliance.

“Roe versus Wade guarantees a woman’s right to abortion,” Mims said. “This is a licensure issue.”

Another piece of legislation Mims said he considered meaningful was a program intended to combat prescription drug abuse.

The program will allow local narcotics task forces — including Metro Narcotics — to receive excess prescription pills from people who may have needed them at one point but did not finish the prescription, Mims said.

The various drug task forces will receive the pills on the first Monday of every month, and will take the pills to an incinerator in Jackson.

“The goal is to somehow get rid of this medicine out of your house once you are done using it,” Mims said.

The third legislative instrument Mims said he was proud of having pushed through the committee was the creation of the Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce.

Mississippi has a physician shortage, Mims said, and the goal of the OMPW is to recruit more doctors to residency schools in the state.

“It’s been shown that if you draw a 100-mile circle around a residency school, that’s where a doctor is likely to settle once he’s finished his residency,” Mims said.

Mississippi must add 1,330 primary care physicians to meet the national average of per-capita doctors.