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Prior authorization bill heads to Gov. Reeves’ desk for second year in a row

For the second year in a row, a bill is heading to the desk of Gov. Tate Reeves regarding how insurance companies decide whether or not to cover a prescribed procedure, service, or medication.

Senate Bill 2140, authored by Republican Sen. Walter Michel of Ridgeland, is the second attempt in as many years by lawmakers to require insurance companies to approve both urgent and non-urgent care within a designated timeframe. Last year, a similar bill was vetoed by Reeves as the Republican governor cited “the potential to seriously increase the cost of healthcare in Mississippi.”

“This bill would force insurance companies to give an answer more quickly – great! It also had some unintended consequences,” Reeves wrote at the time. “The bill has a lot of technical components: like administrative hearings that are in an incorrect place, untenable costs for Medicaid, and other issues that cause me not to be comfortable signing but hopefully we can get a great bill done soon!”

Whether this year’s bill that the Senate unanimously joined the House in approving on Tuesday will be what the governor is looking for or not is unclear at this time. However, Michel and company vouch that it erases Reeves’ concerns from a year ago as it would not cost the state health plan anything.

SB 2140 would require insurers to respond to emergent requests within 48 hours and non-emergent requests within seven working days. It would also require the process to go through an online web portal in which physicians can request prior authorization and appeal denied applications. The portal would be under the umbrella of the Mississippi Department of Insurance, which is expected to receive appropriation for two new hires if put into law.

Reeves has five days to sign or veto the legislation. If approved, it will go into effect on July 1, 2024.

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