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Medicaid Debate Continues in House

By Daniel Cherry | Published 11 Mar 2013 07:32pm | comments
Discussions over whether to expand Mississippi's Medicaid program continue. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, lawmakers are hearing from hospitals, economists, and the Governor's office on whether or not to add hundreds of thousands of low-income Mississippians to the program.
 
At a hearing on Medicaid yesterday, presenters testified before the House Medicaid Committee their assessments on expanding the program. Christie Herrera is Vice President of Policy for the Foundation for Government Accountability. She has doubts whether the state can afford to expand Medicaid in the first place.
 
"Everyone likes to talk about that 90%-10% match that the states will get if they expand their Medicaid population, but in some states it's going to be tough to come up with that 10%."
 
How much the program would cost...well that depends on who you ask. Dr. Bob Neal, Senior Economist with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning presented lawmakers with an IHL study on expansion. Neal says from 2014 to 2025, the cumulative financial burden on Mississippi would be upwards of 500 million dollars.
 
"Investing in Medicaid expansion is not the same as investing in a new manufacturing plant. It would be ill-advised for the state to invest in an economic development project where it will not see a positive return on its investment. It "
 
But many supporters say the benefits of having a healthier population would outweigh the costs. Representative Bob Evans, a Democrat from Monticello, says expanding Medicaid isn't just about economic investment.
 
"This is the right thing to do. People tell us all the time, 'We want you to quit being partisan. We want y'all to go up there an agree to do the things to help the people of Mississippi', and this will help the working people of Mississippi."
 
If Medicaid is expanded it would add about 300 thousand low-income Mississippians to the program.

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