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Congressman Alan Nunnelee Embraces ‘Ryan Budget’ And Medicare Changes

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 17 Aug 2012 04:47pm | comments
Rep. Nunnelee talks with MPB news.

Mississippi's first district congressman is calling for cuts to federal spending, changes to Medicare and cautioning state law makers not to expand medicaid. Congressman Alan Nunnelee sat down with MPB News to discuss the presidential election and the economy in Mississippi. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports.

Freshman congressman Alan Nunnelee says there is a reason Mississippi's unemployment rate continues to hover around 9-percent.

He says he sees many business opportunities in the state but thinks the current political climate makes employers reluctant to set up shop here.

"That uncertainty has led to their not hiring. There is capitol sitting on the side lines. And I think if congress and the federal government can give employers that certainty, you will see our economy begin to grow," Nunnelee said.

The cure, says Nunnelee, is the election of the likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney and in particular his running mate Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan.

Nunnelee calls his colleague in the house a 'friend' and endorsed the Ryan budget including the controversial plan to change Medicare from a single-payer system into a program that will give people under 55 cash to pay for private insurance.

"I think that Paul Ryan's presence on the ticket is going to cause our nation to have very healthy debate. Particularly over the future of Medicare. And it is a debate that I welcome. The Medicare actuaries have said if we sit back and do nothing Medicare is going bankrupt in 12 years," Nunnelee said.

The way Medicare is set up; there will be funds to pay for outpatient care, doctors, and drugs.

However, the plan will run short of cash to pay for inpatient care, hospitals, and privately-run medicare plans.

Still, even without action, the program will continue to operate past 2024.

Congressman Nunnelee, who was a state senator for 16 years and chaired the appropriations committee, says Mississippi cannot afford to expand medicaid to cover about 250-thousand new low income Mississippians as proposed by the Health Care Reform Law.

He says the federal government's offer to pay for 100-percent of the expansion for the first three years is trick to lure states into expanding the program.

"And then we will pull the plug and let the state tax payers pick it up. Not unlike a drug dealer that goes out and says we will give you this addictive substance for a little while. Let you become accustomed to it. And then all of a sudden we will start charging you for it," Nunnelee said.

Mississippi would eventually have to pay 10-percent of the program which could cost the state 400-million dollars over the next seven years.

The Medicaid expansion will be one of the top issues facing lawmakers when they return to Jackson in January.

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Rep. Nunnelee talks with MPB news.


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