Medicaid: Allegations of bias in awarding care contracts are ‘disingenuous’

The Division of Medicaid emphatically rejects the official protests of two insurance companies asking the agency to redo the procurement process for its managed care program, MississippiCAN. The insurers, Amerigroup and the new state-based nonprofit, Mississippi True, had argued that the agency had unfairly discriminated against them when awarding managed care contracts in June. Some arguments of their protest were that Medicaid used a biased grading system for the proposals, that the agency had improperly approved the contracts and that agency director Dr. David Dzielak had an improper relationship with one of the companies granted a contract, Molina Healthcare. But the Division of Medicaid’s office of procurement rejected each of these arguments on Tuesday, affirming its earlier decision to award the three MississippiCAN contracts to incumbent insurers United HealthCare and Magnolia Health and a newcomer, the California-based Molina Healthcare. “The protests were without merit, and the allegations against me and the agency were disingenuous.

2017 West Nile Virus cases outpace previous years

The Department of Health reports five new human cases of West Nile Virus, bringing the state total to 41 for the year. The new cases are in Clarke, Hinds, Lauderdale, Monroe and Yazoo counties. Last week, the Department of Health reported that two people had died of the virus. August and September are peak season for West Nile Virus, and the number of infections typically skyrockets during those months. But West Nile seems to have a firmer grip on the state in 2017 than it has in past years.

West Nile claims two more victims

Two more Mississippians have died from West Nile Virus this year, bringing the total number of deaths in 2017 to three. The two deaths were in residents of Humphreys and Forrest counties, reported the Department of Health on Monday. The Department of Health also reported 12 new cases of the virus, bringing the state total to 36 this year. “This sadly serves as a reminder that the threat of West Nile virus should be taken very seriously,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in a release last month. “While many people may be infected with West Nile and not show symptoms, in a small number of cases, the infection can cause very serious complications, even death.”

In 2017, cases have been reported in Bolivar, Clay, Covington, Forrest, Hinds, Humphreys, Jones, Leake, Leflore, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Noxubee, Perry, Rankin, Scott, and Wilkinson counties.

Health department reports one new case of West Nile Virus

The Department of Health reported one new case of West Nile Virus on Monday in a resident of Hinds County. Last week a resident of Grenada County died of the virus, the first person to die of the virus in 2017. So far this year, 19 people in Mississippi have contracted West Nile. “This sadly serves as a reminder that the threat of West Nile virus should be taken very seriously,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers in a release last week. “While many people may be infected with West Nile and not show symptoms, in a small number of cases, the infection can cause very serious complications, even death.”

In 2017, cases have been reported in Covington, Forrest, Grenada, Hinds, Humphreys, Jones, Leflore, Lincoln, Madison, Perry, Rankin and Scott counties.

West Nile Virus now in Hinds, Leflore counties

The Department of Health added Hinds and Leflore to the list of counties reporting human cases of West Nile Virus on Thursday, bringing the state total to five for 2017. Previously, the Department of Health had reported two human cases in Forrest County and one in Rankin County. The Department of Health also has confirmed that mosquitoes tested positive for the disease in eight counties, six of which have not had a confirmed human case: Clay, Hinds, Forrest, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Rankin and Washington. Of the 73 mosquitoes that have tested positive in the state, 28 were in Forrest County and 16 were in Washington County. In a release earlier this month, the Department of Health said that an increase in cases means that Mississippians are entering “peak season” for the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes that are more prevalent in the warmer summer months.