Drew Snyder, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Phil Bryant, has been named the interim Director of the Division of Medicaid. Snyder has developed into an expert on the Medicaid issue. He will succeed Dr. David Dzielak, who stepped down after six years in the post shortly after a legislative Medicaid hearing and a subsequent meeting with the Governor last week.
Snyder is a Eupora native and received his undergraduate in Business Studies from Ole Miss before attaining a law degree from University of Virginia School of Law. He was an Associate at Hollingsworth LLP just before taking a position as the Assistant Secretary of State for Policy and Research from 2012 until 2014. He was subsequently named Deputy Chief Counsel for Governor Bryant. Last year, he received the added responsibilities of being the Governor’s Policy Director and Counsel. He was most recently selected for Mississippi Top 50 2017.
Medicaid will likely be one of the hottest items in the 2018 legislative session. The legislation lawmakers will be working through is known as the “Medicaid Technical Amendments Bill,” or “tech bill” for short, and it will allow for changes to the program and specifically addresses how and what providers get paid.
Dzielak took serious fire over the last few years for the managed care program that was implemented during his time. Doctors and hospitals have accused insurers of bill delays and payments not being made, leaving lawmakers wondering if the program is saving or spending the states money. However, over half of the state’s Medicaid recipients are in these programs.
<strong>Why this matters</strong>
First, for Governor Bryant to take someone so senior in his staff to put in the office should indicate the priority that he’s placing on the Medicaid “tech” bill and the agency as a whole. In Mississippi alone, Medicaid provides health insurance for over 760,000 people. Any changes made to Medicaid could potentially impact all of those that rely on its services. Medicaid operates on a large budget, especially after matched federal funds are added in, putting the programs numbers in the $6 billion range. This year the agency was seeking over $47 million more in deficit spending to maintain a working budget. The financial ripple effect of what happens with Medicaid will likely affect the state budget picture and specifically general fund availability for things like education and infrastructure.
Medicaid primarily provides healthcare to the disabled, the underprivileged, children, and the elderly.
As part of the “tech’ bill, all sorts of reimbursement formulas for all types of care will be reviewed and renewed. Lawmakers will also take a look at the transportation system used by Medicaid patients, citing any improvements that could be made. This reorganization would allow Medicaid providers to have input to the program.
This is likely to be a special interest feast for lobbyists, although having someone intricately involved in policy like Snyder will likely mitigate some of that activity. With the assistance of a Medicaid Advisory Committee, providers and interest groups will provide input on what type of financial assistance they would like to see for their programs. So far, several of them are recommending that Mississippi Medicaid recipients be allowed more visits to the doctor as well as better access to prescription medication.
Steve Demetropoulous, a Gulf Coast emergency room physician and chairman of the Advisory Committee told Bobby Harrison of the Daily Journal that “If we can keep them (Medicaid recipients) out of the emergency room, we can save more revenue.” Right now Medicaid recipients are limited to five prescriptions a month, and some can only see a doctor once a month.
Senator Brice Wiggins and Rep. Chris Brown will also be in the crosshairs this session as the Medicaid “tech” bill grinds through their committees. Having an experienced policy hand like Snyder at Medicaid with the full support of the Governor may be an unanticipated Christmas political gift for both.