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Senate Bill Would Renew Medicaid, Allow Expansion Debate

By Daniel Cherry | Published 05 Feb 2013 08:59pm | comments
The Mississippi legislature is keeping the door open for Medicaid expansion, even though many members say they aren't ready to grow the program. 
 
A bill to extend Mississippi's Medicaid program for another year passed the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee just hours before deadline. Senator Hob Bryan is Vice Chair of the committee. He says the bill would reauthorize Medicaid, and it also allows amendments that could be used to expand the program.
 
"Honest to goodness, the rules about Medicaid expansion change from day to day. This allows us to have a few more weeks to see what things look like down the road", Bryan said.
 
Medicaid expansion would add an estimated 300,000 low-income Mississippians to the program. And some estimate it could cost one billion dollars over the next ten years. Dean Kirby, Senate Health Committee Chairman says he isn't in favor expansion, but he thinks the issue at least deserves debate.
 
Kirby says, "I think that we did the right thing. I'm convinced that we did the right thing, as a matter of fact, and we'll see what happens from here. But I'm very confident, at this time, that Medicaid expansion will not be part of the Medicaid bill this year."
 
In the committee hearing, Democratic Senator John Horhn introduced an amendment to the bill that would have expanded Medicaid. The amendment failed, but Horhn still thinks expansion is the right thing to do. 
 
"We left the code sections in there that would allow for the expansion of Medicaid, and that keeps the measure alive at least. But I plan to try to offer an amendment on the floor that would do the same thing, to expand Medicaid", says Horhn.
 
Democrats in the House blocked a Medicaid reauthorization bill last week because the legislation didn't have the code sections to allow amendments. That means Medicaid renewal and, possibly, expansion depends on the Senate bill.

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