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Veteran Lawmaker Calls for Medicaid Expansion

By Daniel Cherry | Published 06 Aug 2012 06:37pm | comments
One of the biggest issues facing the Mississippi legislature in the 2013 session is whether to participate in the medicaid expansion that comes with the Affordable Care Act. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how one veteran lawmaker says expanding medicaid is in the state's best interest.
 
The recent Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act gives states the option of expanding Medicaid. In Mississippi that means some 400 thousand low-income residents would have access to health care if the state participates. While speaking at the Capital Press Forum yesterday, longtime lawmaker, George Flaggs, a Democrat from Vicksburg, says the expansion is the right thing to do.
 
"You can't have 400,000 people in a state with two point something million people and underfund 400,000 people. I don't understand the logic behind it, but you can't do that."
 
The proposal to expand medicaid is facing sharp resistance from some Republican policy makers. Speaking last week at the Neshoba County Fair, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves said even though the federal government will pick up the tab for the first several years, the move would cost the state more than one billion dollars over a ten years.
 
"It's hard to even fathom what the feds may do five years from now, but the reality is, whether it's a billion five or a billion eight, Mississippi taxpayers simply can't afford that."
 
Mississippi is considered the most unhealthy state in the nation. It has the highest rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Representative Flaggs says with statistics like that, Mississippi can't afford not to participate.
 
"We've got to return this state back to where we do right for the people first regardless of the party and move the state forward with education, health care wise. Because everybody ought to have access to affordable health care."
 
The U.S. Census Bureau said in 2010 that one in five Mississippians does not have health insurance.

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