College tuition program needs shoring up

Jeff Amy’s recent article highlighted challenges for the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program. As members of the College Savings Mississippi Board, we thought we’d offer some additional context. No treasurer, nor any board, can fix this issue alone.

Under Treasurer Fitch’s leadership, the board paused MPACT, conducted its first actuarial audit and restructured for self-sustainability. MPACT couldn’t survive under its original structure. MPACT Horizon was launched, and each report since has shown MPACT Horizon meeting its goals.

However, the Legacy plan (1997-2012) is 70% funded. As a full faith and credit obligation, taxpayers could owe $127 million for the Legacy Plan. This shortfall is expected to occur mid-2027.

This is not a question of whether the state will need to fill the gap. Rather, the question is how to reduce the taxpayer burden. We cannot invest our way out of this shortfall, but we can reduce the taxpayers’ tab.

Since 2014, Treasurer Fitch and the board have made written requests for legislatively approved cash infusions. No legislative infusions have yet been approved to prepare for the coming deficits. The infusions are sound fiscal policy – addressing the shortfall in annual increments now costs less than waiting for a mandatory infusion at the end. Acting now could save state coffers tens of millions of dollars.

The state has a budget surplus. Appropriating part of the surplus to MPACT Legacy would ease future budgets from the strain of mandatory appropriations. We urge the incoming legislative leadership to act.

Jason Branning, CFP,  and Len Blanton, CPA,

Members of the College Savings MS Board

Protect home health for seniors

Millions of seniors across the United States rely on Medicare home health to remain in their homes and receive necessary skilled health care services. However, a new Medicare payment model threathens to restrict access to care for America's most vulnerable seniors who depend on these services. If implemented, this payment model will cut Medicare home health by 6.42 percent – equaling more than $1 billion in 2020 – based purely on asumptions about changes in provider behaviors under the new system.

Fortunately, Congress has recently taken action to protect home health by introducing the Home Health Payment Innovation Act (S. 433 & H.R. 2573). While our lawmakers are home for summer recess, I encourage them to learn more about their constituents who depend on home health and urge them to support this vital legislation when they return to Capitol Hill.

Amy Thomas

Carthage

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