Health care bills to watch in the 2024 Mississippi legislative session
Editor’s note: This list will be updated throughout the legislative session. It was last updated on Feb. 9.
Somewhere around 3,000 bills are expected to be filed for the 2024 session of the Mississippi Legislature. Likely only a third or so will become law. The deadline for introducing general bills and constitutional amendments is Feb. 19. Taxing and spending bills face later deadlines, with the session scheduled to end on May 5.
Mississippi health care — including the intertwined crises of hundreds of thousands of uninsured people and hospitals facing financial disaster — is front and center with lawmakers this year.
Here are some bills filed to date to address health care issues.
Scope of practice, facilities
Senate Bill 2064, authored by Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune, would repeal the state’s certificate of need law. CON laws require health care providers to get permission from the state before adding or expanding some healthcare facilities or services. Proponents, including many hospital leaders, say they help control costs, ensure quality of care and availability of services such as emergency rooms. Opponents, including Gov. Tate Reeves, say they stifle free-market competition.
Senate Bill 2140, authored by Sen. J. Walter Michel, R-Ridgeland, would streamline “prior authorization,” the process by which insurance companies decide which medications and procedures are covered for consumers. It already passed unanimously in the Senate, and with a few revisions, also passed unanimously in the House. It will now go back to the Senate for approval of the revisions. But a similar prior authorization bill passed the Legislature last year, only to be vetoed by Gov. Reeves.
Senate Bill 2080, authored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, seeks to introduce the state’s first licensed midwifery program. As it stands, anyone can practice midwifery in Mississippi, but those who want certification have to go out of state — meaning Mississippi, a state riddled with health care deserts and the highest infant and maternal mortality rates, loses out on provider care.
Senate Bill 2079, authored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, would abolish nurse practitioner collaboration agreements. These agreements are financial contracts whereby NPs who want to practice in Mississippi must pay a physician with whom they are “in collaboration” with. These contracts can be expensive and sometimes have distance limitations, meaning rural areas lose out on care because NPs aren’t allowed to practice too far from their collaborating physicians — who are mostly based in urban areas.
House Bill 539, authored by Rep. Missy McGee, R-Hattiesburg, introduces presumptive eligibility for pregnant women. It passed the full House 117-5 last week and now advances to the Senate. If passed, it would allow low-income pregnant women to receive timely prenatal care while they wait for their Medicaid application to be officially approved — which can sometimes take months. Senate Medicaid Chair Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, has voiced his support of the policy, calling it a “serious issue for a lot of us on this side.”
Lawmakers are expected to address Medicaid expansion to cover the working poor, and several bills have already been filed, but the bills that will actually be used and debated are likely still forthcoming.
Reproductive health and rights
House Bill 32, authored by Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, would direct the Mississippi State Department of Health to have a nurse practitioner available at each county health department at least one day a week to provide and prescribe contraception. The bill would also mandate that contraception be made affordable on a sliding scale, and that it be made available to minors who are parents, married, have the permission of their parent or legal guardian, or have been referred for the service by another physician, nurse practitioner, clergyman, family planning clinic, school or institution of higher learning, or any state agency.
Senate Bill 2163, by Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, would establish legal protections and rights for the parents of children born via surrogacy and in vitro fertilization.
House Bill 336, by Rep. Kevin Felsher, R-Biloxi, would require counties to pay for psychiatric treatment for an indigent resident who has been ordered into treatment by a judge through the civil commitment process, if no publicly funded bed is available. It would cap the cost to the county at no more than the Medicaid reimbursement rate, and it would prohibit counties from jailing going through the commitment process someone solely because they lack a payor source.
House Bill 415, by Rep. Kevin Felsher, R-Biloxi, would prohibit counties from jailing someone without criminal charges while they go through the civil commitment process unless they are awaiting transportation to a medical facility and it is necessary for protective custody. Any such jail detentions would be limited to 72 hours.
House Bill 990, by Rep. Sam Creekmore, R-New Albany, would create a tax on vape products and use the revenue to increase patient housing at the community mental health centers and to create a fund for the Department of Mental Health’s 988 Crisis Response System.
House Bill 1044, by Rep. Sam Creekmore, R-New Albany, would provide for the establishment and licensure of long-term adult supportive residential facilities for people with mental illness, and would direct Medicaid to cover the services at such facilities.