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‘Blueprint’ Health Care Report Avoids Recommendation On Medicaid Expansion

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 27 Oct 2012 01:53pm | comments
Governor Phil Bryant announces the blue print report.

A statewide business group is urging Mississippi lawmakers to see the health care industry as an economic driver, as well as a health care tool.  But, as MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, the blueprint does not make a recommendation on one of the biggest health care decisions facing state lawmakers.

The group, called Blueprint Mississippi, recommends lowering regulatory barriers, improving rural access, and encouraging entrepreneurship to expand the health care industry.

But it does not address the option Mississippi has...provided by the health care reform law....to expand its Medicaid program.

Blake Wilson with the Mississippi Economic Council, who released the blue print, says this is because the future of the health care law is uncertain.

"This is done outside of that. There is no point in trying to crystal ball something that hasn't happened yet, that hasn't been dealt with. This is focused on what are the economic development opportunities now and where can we go," Wilson said.

A study issued last week by the Institutions of Higher learning estimates that expanding the Medicaid program could create 9-thousand jobs and insure 300-thousand Mississippians.

Some economic and health policy advocates, like Ed Sivac with the Mississippi Economic Policy center, says that makes expanding Medicaid a huge economic opportunity.

"We have the same number of jobs today as we did in 1996 and we have an opportunity to create 9,000 Jobs while at the same connection 300-thousand people to health insurance in a state where our health outcomes are deterrent to economic development. I absolutely think that this is a game changer," Sivac said.

The report also predicts a yearly cost of 100-million dollars a year by 2025 if lawmaker choose to expand Medicaid.

Governor Phil Bryant, who toured the state announcing the Blueprint Health care plan, remains firm that the state should not expand Medicaid.

"I heard the same argument when CHIPS was expanded in the 1990's. They said 'if we can just expand CHIPS what an economic driver it will be'. We put some 70-thousand children on the CHIPS program. That is not a bad thing but you did not see the economic development in the health care industry that was promised," Bryant said.

Whether or not to expand the program will likely be one of the biggest questions facing Mississippi lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session.

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Governor Phil Bryant announces the blue print report.


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