Sen. Hill appointed to committee at Southern Legislative Conference

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mississippi Senator Angela Hill was recently appointed by Lt. Governor Tate Reeves to serve on the Human Services and Public Safety Committee at the Southern Legislative Conference.
“The leadership in the state has put trust in me to represent the state and to look at policy objectively,” Hill said.
The conference, made up of 15 southern states, will meet at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi the last weekend of July, she said.
Pooling their resources, the representatives increase access to data that allows them to develop effective policy, Hill said.
“You can’t develop policy out of thin air,” she said.
Hill said she believes she was chosen for this position based on her work within the policy areas of human services.
Last year, she received the 2016 Rural Health Legislative Champion award for her legislation that expanded the coverage area of nurse practitioners.
During the 2017 Legislative session, Hill worked on three bills to reform the Department of Human Services and the youth court system.
“They know I’m a workhorse,” she said.
While new to the conference, Hill said one of the main discussion points would likely be how to reduce Medicaid costs, while maintaining the same level of health care.
Every year, Medicaid costs rise as the pool of taxpayers dwindles, she said.
Hill said she hopes to talk to other states about how they’ve created policies to get costs down with the same or better outcome of services.
Though it’s a federal issue, Hill said the topic of hospitals maintaining their critical access designation will likely be discussed. With a potential reform of the healthcare industry, Hill said looking at how each state will handle potential changes is a big priority.
Another important topic is state mental health care.
The Mental Health Department is one of the biggest departments in the state with about 7,300 employees, Hill said.
But as the state moves toward more community-based mental health services, the question remains how to ensure a safe environment for Mississippi citizens while giving autonomy for mental health patients, she said.
“When you put them out in community-based programs, it’s a challenge to figure out how much autonomy they can have and still keep the community safe,” Hill said.
It’s also a financial challenge, as a lot of the state’s mental health programs are paid through Medicaid, she said.
“You can’t talk about one without talking about the other,” Hill said.
The Southern Legislative Conference is a part of the Council of State Governments and is currently chaired by Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Philip Gunn.
Other committees at SLC include: Agriculture & Rural Development; Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs; Education; Energy and & Environment; and Fiscal Affairs and Government Operations.

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About Julia Arenstam

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