Becerra says rural health would improve if states expand Medicaid

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra told a Senate committee Tuesday that rural health outcomes would improve if more states expanded Medicaid.

During a hearing on the administration’s budget request, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi) said she was particularly concerned about the desertification of maternal and child care due to hospital closures. He said Mississippi has some of the worst maternal health in the country and often leads the nation in infant mortality rates.

Becerra said access to telehealth is critical and Congress should ensure the agency’s pandemic-era telehealth flexibility continues. Many temporary exemptions expire at the end of the year.

But most of all, Becerra said, Mississippi women would receive better services if the state expanded Medicaid.

“Many women with poor outcomes could have received treatment sooner if they had been eligible for Medicaid,” he said. “Expanding Medicaid in some states that have not yet done so would give about 1.5 million more Americans, many of them women who are trying to give birth, access early care without having to wait to give birth. I think it’s going to be like that.”It’s a difficult situation when it comes to childbirth. ”

Mississippi is one of 10 states that has refused to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The state Legislature appears closer than ever to enacting expansion. But the Legislature has passed competing proposals, and controversial work requirements are a major hurdle, as is opposition from Republican Gov. Tate Reeves.

Mr. Becerra also heard from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-Va.) about better data sharing so that health care providers have all the information they need to provide medically appropriate care. He was asked why HHS has not yet implemented anti-addiction laws that are meant to make it possible.

“We’re trying to address HIPAA privacy hurdles” as providers need to understand the new rules, Becerra said.

But Manchin expressed frustration that the agency was not moving quickly enough.

“We thought we had crossed every hurdle… now is the time to do it. I would love to get our staff to work on this issue. We’ve been waiting for it for a long time.” He said.

Jesse’s Law, passed by Congress in 2018, is named after a recovering addict who died of an opioid overdose after being prescribed oxycodone by a doctor who left the hospital without knowing his medical history.

This law allows physicians to access consenting patients’ prior addiction history in order to make informed care and treatment decisions. The law requires HHS to develop best practices for hospitals and physicians to display a patient’s substance use disorder history when the patient provides substance use disorder information.

“We need cooperation from providers to ensure our staff understands the new rules,” Becerra said.

“Well, I think the sooner you get it out, the quicker people will understand,” Manchin countered.

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