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Weekend of Wonders

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Weekend of Wonders


A high-five between 1-year-old Jamie and a “T-Rex” was just one of the hands-on experiences for kids of all ages during MSU’s annual Science Night at the Museums this past weekend. Held at Hilbun Hall and Cobb Institute of Archaeology, this fun event welcomed participants to fascinating exhibits and activities centered around the wonders of science. Dive into this night of new knowledge and curiosity for yourself by visiting here. 

 



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Mississippi

Mississippi Medicaid Expansion: Don’t Lose a Friend Over This

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Mississippi Medicaid Expansion: Don’t Lose a Friend Over This


  • Pepper Crutcher discusses the complexities of Medicaid expansion.

“From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away.” – Raymond Chandler, The High Window

That’s typically true of legislation that seeks to solve complex problems. How you see the House-passed Medicaid Expansion bill probably depends on your pre-existing point of view. The Mississippi House passed HB 1725 with a vote of 98-20 on February 28, advancing it to the Mississippi Senate.

Everyone would like to see reliable, relevant data about a truly comparable, prior State expansion, but no such data is available. Since we have little more than confirmation bias to inform us, none should question the character or motives of those who see this differently. Here’s a short, over-simplified explanation of why this topic confounds so many who sincerely want to get it right.

Who would be eligible for expanded Mississippi Medicaid coverage?

There are 15 coverage categories; low Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) alone won’t suffice. To qualify under the most restrictive category, non-disabled adults with dependents, your MAGI must be very low indeed. Typically, these are households with reported income from part-time or sporadic employment at or just above the minimum wage. Mississippi has the option to raise this limit to 138% of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL), thereby drawing a more generous federal Medicaid match – currently up to 95% of qualifying expenditures.

HB 1725 goes all-in. Even if CMS (the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) disapproves the bill’s work requirement, full expansion will happen; so says section 1(f) of HB 1725. Mississippi Medicaid would no longer cover only the abjectly impoverished; it would cover many people with full-time jobs that pay more than the minimum wage.

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When would Mississippi Medicaid expansion become effective?

Even if CMS denies Mississippi’s work requirement request, the enrolled expansion population would be covered beginning January 1, 2025, based on HB 1725 as passed by the House.

What is the difference between Medicaid and “Obamacare”?

Medicaid is a federal/state health insurance program administered mostly by states but funded, in the poorest states, almost entirely with federal dollars. Payments to providers are, in most situations, lower than private insurance or Medicare payments.

Currently, there is a gap between the upper MAGI limit for adult Mississippi Medicaid and the lower limit of “Obamacare” subsidy eligibility. Mississippi households with income 100% to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level are eligible to buy federally subsidized, privately issued health insurance plans through Healthcare.gov – the “Obamacare” web site. See for yourself. Go there, enter single member household, minimum wage, full-time job numbers (amounting to $14,720 annually) and the site’s calculator will tell you that your income is too high for Mississippi Medicaid but that you are eligible for Obamacare subsidies.

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Through “Advance Premium Tax Credits,” the Feds pay all Obamacare premiums for households with incomes between 100% and 150% of the FPL. There also are “Cost Sharing Reduction” subsidies, but, even with them, beneficiaries may have to bear several thousand dollars annually of “out-of-pocket” (OOP) costs that they would not bear if Medicaid had covered the same medical expenses.

What’s the problem?

Lest this article become a book, let’s just scratch the surface. Should HB 1725 become law as passed by the House, the upper Medicaid adult MAGI limit will substantially overlap the lower limit of Obamacare subsidies. Healthcare.gov will redirect Mississippi applicants to Medicaid if they enter Medicaid-qualifying MAGI numbers, reducing federal expense for that household’s coverage (100% of premiums plus cost sharing reduction subsidies), while increasing State expense (5% of covered costs of care for the expansion population). The added Mississippi Medicaid burden of the newly enrolled would be known in percentage terms but unknown in absolute dollar – i.e., budgetary – terms. The State’s cost could be raised further by small employer decisions to drop their plans. Some people now working full time for their employer-sponsored insurance might quit or go part time, and Mississippi already has the nation’s lowest workforce participation rate. HB 1725 anticipates this and directs the Division of Medicaid to make coverage hoppers wait a year to enroll in Medicaid. Just like the work requirement, this would require CMS approval.

Plus, enforcement mechanisms and capacities are unclear. If the people dropping from employer insurance plans tend to be younger and healthier than average, those plan terms and premiums may get worse as claim experience trends badly. Some small employers might become uninsurable, effectively. In the worst-case scenario, expansion might solve much of the Obamacare OOP problem for current uninsureds while creating a new group of uninsureds who would be less likely to qualify for full Obamacare subsidies. A similar expansion consequence could wreck Mississippi Obamacare. About 286,000 Mississippians are enrolled in a 2024 Healthcare.gov plan.

If insurers expect most of them to shift to 2025 Medicaid, will those insurers compete for the shrunken 2025 Healthcare.gov business? How much would the remaining insurer(s) raise premiums in response to what they may see as increased risk? If rates spike or if insurers bail out, many new uninsureds could fall in a new gap between expanded Medicaid and employer-provided coverage.

What could go right?

“Only two people know the future: God and a fool,” says the Lebanese proverb. Medicaid expansion worries may turn out to have been excessive. Expansion might cost the State little, solve the Obamacare OOP problem, throw a lifeline to struggling providers, increase workforce participation, and not wreck the Obamacare exchange program. An old joke, told by Milton Berle, is an apt one: “Two Irishmen are leaving a bar …. What? It could happen!” This, too, could happen. In hindsight, expansion proponents might seem to have been prescient.

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But everyone is guessing. If your friend’s guess doesn’t match yours, he or she should remain your friend. Let it be so, please.





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No. 14 Alabama retains a share of 1st place in the SEC with a 103-88 win over Mississippi

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No. 14 Alabama retains a share of 1st place in the SEC with a 103-88 win over Mississippi


OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mark Sears scored 26 points and No. 14 Alabama held on to its share of first place in the Southeastern Conference with a 103-88 win over Mississippi on Wednesday night.

Sears, a 6-foot-1 guard and the SEC’s leading scorer at 20.4 points a game, was 8 for 14 from the floor and 3 for 8 from 3-point range as Crimson Tide (20-8) kept pace with conference co-leader No. 4 Tennessee, which beat No. 11 Auburn 92-84 earlier Wednesday.

Tennessee and Alabama are 12-3 in conference play.

Aaron Estrada had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, Davin Cosby Jr. added 15 points, Rylan Griffen had 14 and Nick Pringle and Grant Nelson each had 10 for The Crimson Tide.

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“He’s getting comfortable in the offense, figuring out where to get his shots, when he can attack,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said of Estrada. “I keep telling him he needs to stop passing up open 3s. He deserves to have a good game because he’s been playing so hard. It’s awesome when you think of all the pros we’ve had come through here.”

Allen Flanigan led Ole Miss with 28 points, an SEC season-high for the Auburn transfer.

Flanigan was ejected from Saturday’s 72-59 loss to No. 18 South Carolina after a flagrant foul. He did not start Wednesday, but was in the game within the first three minutes.

“The first half was one of our better halves all season, one of our better 20-minute segments. I thought we needed to score 90 points and make nine or 10 3s to win this game,” Ole Miss coach Chris Beard said.

Ole Miss (19-9, 6-9 SEC) slowed the Crimson Tide’s conference-leading offense (91.1 points per game) in the first half, but eventually Alabama pulled away.

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The Crimson Tide, who have scored at least 80 points in nine straight games, were on a 60-point pace before a couple of 3-pointers fueled a 16-5 run to close the first half. Sears had eight points in the run.

Ole Miss led 42-39 at the break.

Two free throws by Jarin Stevenson at the 18:58 mark of the second half gave Alabama its first lead of the game. The Crimson Tide stretched their lead to nine points on a 3-pointer by Estrada with 14:19 left.

The Rebels tied the game at 65 with 9:39 left when Jaylen Murray capped an 8-0 run with two free throws, but Alabama surged ahead.

BIG PICTURE

Ole Miss has lost six of its last seven. The Rebels had a chance to boost their NCAA Tournament resume, but fell Wednesday and lost to No. 18 South Carolina last Saturday, dropping two home games.

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Alabama could help its NCAA Tournament seeding with an SEC regular-season championship.

UP NEXT

Alabama: Host No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday.

Mississippi: At Missouri on Saturday.

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Get poll alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. Sign up here.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

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John Calipari discusses end of Mississippi State win and not fouling up 3

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John Calipari discusses end of Mississippi State win and not fouling up 3


The Kentucky Wildcats pulled off an impressive win in Starkville on Tuesday night, but they did so with plenty of drama in the final minute of play against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Heading into the final minute of play, the Cats held an eight-point lead. The Bulldogs then hit two 3s and converted an and-1 to push the game to a one-possession game in the final 15 seconds. Josh Hubbard drilled another 3 to tie it up, but luckily for the Cats, Reed Sheppard sank a last-second floater to seal the win.

Now, we have all seen the play that helped the Cats seal the deal, but the win also covers up two questions that would have been asked if it went the Bulldogs’ way.

Why didn’t we foul up 3?

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Why not call a timeout?

John Calipari spoke about both of those answers in his post-game press conference as he walked through the scenarios.

If you have watched enough Kentucky Basketball in the Calipari era, you know for a fact he was not calling a timeout in those final eight seconds. How come? Well, not calling a timeout means the opponent “can’t set up their defense.”

With no timeouts, the Bulldogs had to scramble to get back down the court, find their man, and then proceed to stop any other action the Cats threw their way. A lot to process in a game that’s moving so quickly.

The other question; Why not foul when up 3?

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This one is a question that has followed Calipari for some time and almost reared its head again last night.

You heard Calipari mention above due to how much time was on the clock, and across the board, that was the right call with the amount of time remaining.

The only spot I think that could have changed is before the pass went to Hubbard. Foul KeShawn Murphy there and force a 69.6% free-throw shooter to go make them both.

Either way, the Cats pulled off a gritty win in Starkville, and things seem to be heading in the right direction at the right time.

Going to be a fun end to the season.

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