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Democrats in the Legislature are Continuing their Push for Medicaid Expansion in the State

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 04 Feb 2014 09:49am | comments

Democrats in the Mississippi Legislature continue their push to expand Medicaid in the state under the Affordable Care Act. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports an estimated 162 thousand uninsured Mississippians could benefit from the expansion.

During the Stennis Press Luncheon in Jackson yesterday, House Minority Leader, Bobby Moak, a democrat from Bogue Chitto focused on some of the benefits of accepting federal dollars to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

"That's a pharmacist who can hire an additional tech because people have insurance to get some prescriptions. But even that, we think there are hospitals who are going to cut services. I had talks with a couple of the large hospitals that said we're determining which days to keep our emergency rooms open. It's just unbelievable that we're turning down 3 billion bucks per day that could go to our healthcare providers in this state."

Columbus resident, Jeff Smith, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee says one reason his fellow republicans are against expanding the program is because the federal government’s commitment remains sketchy at best.

"There are a lot of debates going along that probably 3 or 4 years from now there could be some monies put together from the Feds that would guarantee for a 10 year period that there would be no state funds. But I think in all honesty and people can say  what they want to, I think we're all afraid of the unknown."

Jon Turner, a Jackson accountant sees the issue from both sides.

"I'm a conservative generally speaking and not for government expansion per se. But it’s an economic issue not a government expansion issue. There are people that need healthcare that are not getting it. Hospitals are serving those people and in some cases are not getting paid for it. And we are turning down billions of dollars."

A recent  study by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy says uninsured workers such as cashiers, cooks and janitors would benefit most from expanding Medicaid in the state.  Lawayne Childrey MPB News.

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