Policy Points
A blog for people who love data, health care, and policy as we do

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Summary of the 2022 Mississippi Legislative Session

Introduction

The Mississippi Legislation has adjourned for 2022. This article will highlight the various health-related bills and health policy topics that surfaced during this session. This session marks the second year of Governor Tate Reeves’ term as Mississippi Governor with Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann serving as the President of the Senate and Philip Gunn serving as Speaker of the House. Both the Senate and the House had a Republican majority; and, according to the Mississippi Joint Legislative Budget Committee Report, had $5.9 billion at their disposal. 3

Health Topics Covered During the 2022 Session

This session covered a variety of health topics. Some of these topics, like extended Medicaid coverage, were the subject of much debate while other topics, like Medical Marijuana, passed through quickly with little dispute. 4,5

Some revisited health topics discussed during this session were the scope of practice for registered nurses; appropriations to the Department of Health and the Department of Mental Health; the increase of taxes on tobacco products; state-wide food and nutrition programs; and medical workforce retention.6 Other health topics (additions to school health requirements, birth control education, hospice services for offenders, etc.) were covered and discussed but died within the first rounds of committee meetings.7

Bills Passed

Despite many health-related bills dying early in the session, a modest amount of bills reached the governor’s desk. A few of those are described below.

Medical Marijuana (S.B. 2095)

The subject of medical marijuana or medical cannabis has been a reoccurring discussion over the last several sessions. With the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act (S.B. 2095) signed by the governor as of February 2, 2022, patients with certain debilitating medical conditions can now be eligible to receive medical cannabis* through the authorization of the Mississippi Department of Health.8

Mental Health (S.B. 2865)

Mississippi’s mental health services have received federal scrutiny in recent years.9 S.B. 2865, due back from the governor by April 26, 2022, will grant $86 million from the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund to the Department of Mental Health to assist with behavioral and mental health needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 public emergency fund. This act allows assisting community health centers’ expenses to be reimbursed through the American Rescue Plan.10

Telehealth & Telework (S.B. 2738)

Mississippi’s lack of a reliable form of public transportation contributes to poor access to healthcare services, especially in rural areas11. Telehealth and telemedicine have been seen by many as a solution to this lack of access. S.B. 2738, which is due back from the governor on April 23, 2022, revises mandated coverage for telemedicine services by requiring health insurance plans and employee benefit plans to reimburse providers for telemedicine services.12

Rural Health

H.B. 365 was approved by the Governor on March 16, 2022. It establishes the MS Rural Hospital Loan Program. These loans would range from $25 thousand to $100 thousand and would be provided to assist rural hospitals in providing direct health care services.13

Conclusion

With health and health policy receiving more discussion and attention in the aftermath of the pandemic, this session opened the floor to many of Mississippi’s overlooked health issues. With our state experiencing historically high amounts of funding, both state and federal, failing to invest in areas of health and healthcare would be a wasted opportunity. Hopefully, with the upcoming elections, next year’s session will not lose sight of these pertinent health issues and continue to work through them on behalf of their fellow Mississippians.

To view a comprehensive list of the bills the center followed, click here.

*Note: The amount legalized is 3.5 g of medical cannabis flower, 1 g of cannabis concentrate, or 100mg of THC in an infused product.

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