Meridian, Lauderdale County left out of Musgrove committee
By By Terry R. Cassreino / assistant managing editor
May 12, 2002
It's one of the most important problems facing the state today and one person from East Central Mississippi could play a major role in finding a solution.
State Sen. Terry Burton, D-Newton, is one of 10 lawmakers on a legislative committee that will examine in-depth Mississippi's financially ailing Medicaid program.
The committee plans to meet weekly for the next several months studying a health coverage program that is struggling with a budget that's not keeping pace with growing demands.
At the same time, a separate commission this one appointed by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has been formed.
The governor appointed 32 doctors, pharmacists, nursing home owners and health care advocates to a panel that will examine ways to restructure Medicaid and make it more efficient.
Musgrove expects the commission to make recommendations about Medicaid by the July 1 start of the state's next fiscal year.
The only catch, and it's a pretty substantial one, is that none of the members on Musgrove's commission hail from Meridian, Lauderdale County or the immediate area.
And that raises serious questions in a county with three high-profile hospitals Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center, Rush Foundation Hospital and Riley Hospital.
That's too bad because the Medicaid program has serious problems that might benefit from the input of physicians and health care providers who work in the Meridian and Lauderdale County area.
Problems with Medicaid grew increasingly apparent during the 2002 Legislature. Lawmakers gave the program about $120 million less for the next fiscal year than it originally requested.
Musgrove complained and vetoed the funding bill. Lawmakers overrode him.
Musgrove then began a statewide campaign, charging that 13,000 nursing home residents could be evicted because of the legislative action. Lawmakers balked, saying that won't happen.
And that leads to the latest development two separate panels that are closely examining the Medicaid program.
Musgrove met with his commission Thursday, telling members to expect difficult, detailed work. If they thought otherwise, he said, "I'm sorry to tell you this is the wrong place.''
Members came from the Coast, the Delta and North Mississippi. Metropolitan Jackson alone has 14 members on the commission, including some from Brandon, Flowood and Ridgeland.
All Meridian and Lauderdale County have is Burton on the legislative committee and the knowledge that the Legislature has bested Musgrove so far in the Medicaid debate.
Brown eyes another run
As politicians begin readying for next year's state elections, names continue to surface of possible candidates for high-profile races including lieutenant governor.
The latest: some Republican leaders speculate that former state Rep. Terry Brown will take another stab at lieutenant governor despite an unsuccessful try in 1999.
That year, former state Sen. Bill Hawks defeated Brown in the GOP primary 64 percent to 36 percent. Hawks later lost to Democrat Amy Tuck in the November general election.
Brown, in Meridian last week for state Sen. Videt Carmichael's switch to the Republican Party, was hesitant to talk about his political plans. He said he may run for state or county office.
Said Brown, a 12-year state House veteran who served as chairman of the Public Buildings, Grounds and Lands Committee: "I don't know what I'm going to do."