Editor’s note: This list will be updated throughout the legislative session. The last update was in February. 9.
About 3,000 bills are expected to be submitted to the Mississippi Legislature for the 2024 session. Probably only about a third will become law. The deadline for introducing general bills and constitutional amendments is February 19. The tax and spending bill deadline is later, with the session scheduled to end on May 5.
Mississippi health care — including the intertwining crises facing hundreds of thousands of uninsured people and hospitals facing financial devastation — is a focus for lawmakers this year.
Here are some of the bills filed so far that address health care issues.
Scope of practice, facilities
Senate Bill 2064, authored by Sen. Angela Burks Hill of Picayune, would repeal the state’s certificate of need law. CON laws require health care providers to obtain a license from the state before adding or expanding certain health care facilities or services. Supporters, including many hospital leaders, say they help control costs and ensure the 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-R. Richland, would streamline the “prior authorization” process, the process by which insurance companies decide which drugs and procedures are covered for consumers. The bill has passed the Senate unanimously and, with some modifications, the House. It will now return to the Senate for approval of the amendment. But last year the Legislature passed a similar prior authorization bill, but it was vetoed by Governor Reeves.
Senate Bill 2080, authored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-N.Y., would launch the state’s first licensed midwifery program. Currently, anyone can practice midwifery in Mississippi, but those who want to get certified must travel out of state — meaning Mississippi, a state filled with health care deserts and with some of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates, would lose out on providing patient care.
Senate Bill 2079, authored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-N.Y., would repeal nurse practitioner cooperative agreements. These agreements are financial contracts whereby NPs who want to practice in Mississippi must pay the physicians with whom they “partner”. These contracts can be expensive and sometimes have distance restrictions, meaning rural areas lose access to care because nurses are not allowed to practice too far away from partner doctors — who are mostly located in urban areas.
House Bill 976 by Moss Point Republican Rep. Manly Barton would expand podiatrists’ scope of practice to allow them to perform ankle surgeries, bringing Mississippi’s laws in line with those of 48 other states. .
House Bill 539, authored by Rep. Missy McGee, a Hattiesburg Republican, creates presumptive eligibility for pregnant women. The bill passed the House of Representatives last week by a vote of 117 to 5 and is now before the Senate for consideration. If passed, it would allow low-income pregnant women to receive timely prenatal care while they wait for their Medicaid applications to be formally approved — which can sometimes take months. Senate Medicaid Chairman Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven) expressed support for the policy, calling it “a serious problem for many on our side.”
Lawmakers are expected to address Medicaid expansion to cover the working poor, and several bills have already been filed, but the actual bill to be used and debated is likely still to come.
reproductive health and rights
House Bill 32, authored by Rep. Becky Currie of Brookhaven, would direct the Mississippi Department of Health to have a licensed practical nurse in each county health department at least one day a week to provide and Prescribe contraceptives. The bill also provides that contraceptives shall be available on a sliding scale and be made available to minors who are parents, are married, have the permission of a parent or legal guardian, or have been referred for services by another physician. Nurse practitioners, chaplains, family planning clinics, schools or institutions of higher education, or any state agency.
Senate Bill 2163, introduced by Samlar Senator Joey Fillingane, would establish legal protections and rights for parents of children born through surrogacy and in vitro fertilization.
House Bill 336, introduced by Rep. Kevin Felsher, D-Biloxi, would require counties to pay for psychiatric treatment for indigent residents ordered by a judge through the civil commitment process if publicly funded beds are not available. It would limit county costs to no more than Medicaid reimbursement rates and prohibit counties from incarcerating people going through the commitment process simply because of a lack of payer sources.
House Bill 415, introduced by Rep. Kevin Felsher, D-Biloxi, would prohibit counties from jailing people in civil commitment proceedings without criminal charges unless they are awaiting transportation medical facility and required protective custody. The duration of any such prison detention shall not exceed 72 hours.
Read Mississippi Today’s coverage of jail detention during the civil commitment process.
House Bill 990, introduced by Rep. Sam Creekmore of New Albany, would tax vaping products and use tax revenue to increase patient housing at community mental health centers and establish a funding system for the Department of Mental Health’s 988 crisis response.
House Bill 1044, introduced by Rep. Sam Creekmore of New Albany, would establish and license long-term adult supportive residential facilities for people with mental illness and direct Medicaid to cover services at such facilities.