Democrats Release Medicaid Plan

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 06 Jun 2013 07:37am | comments

Mississippi Democrats say they have a hybrid plan to expand health coverage could cover 300,000 low-income Mississippians without adding them to Medicaid. The plan is modeled off a proposal being crafted in Arkansas.


State Democrats say their plan would use federal money designated for Medicaid expansion, but rather than adding those people to Medicaid, it would allow them to spend that money to purchase private plans.


A group of house and Senate Democrats introduced the proposal at the capitol yesterday.


Representative Cecil Brown of Jackson this compromise could revive efforts to increase insurance coverage.


“This would be through the free market. These insurance companies are private companies. This would not be a government insurance plan. That’s not what this would be. Everybody would have an individual policy with ABC insurance company or whatever it would be. So this would be a private solution to what we perceive to be a public problem,” Brown said.


The roughly 300,000 people eligible for the coverage would purchase their coverage through a state run health insurance exchange.


The state would eventually have to pay 10% of the cost in order to draw the federal money.


The plan initially started in the Arkansas legislature as a compromise between a Republican legislature and Democratic governor.


Arkansas Times reporter David Ramsey says it has gained traction with Republicans who did not want to expand Medicaid.


“From their perspective they were just much more open to an approach used private companies rather than expanding the traditional Medicaid program that they viewed as inefficient broken and sort of unfixable. So that is the reason it was a game changer here,” Ramsey said.


Ramsey says this model is estimated to cost Arkansas as much as expanding the traditional Medicaid program.


But conservative reaction in Mississippi is already starting out negative.


In a written statement the Lt. Governor says this is an attempt to force 'Obamacare' on Mississippians.


Nina Owcharenko with the Conservative think-thank the Heritage Foundation says the 'Arkansas plan' does not address any of their concerns with Medicaid expansion such as problems with the existing program, the ability of the feds to pay their share, or allowing true private competition.


“Incorporating private health insurance, I think, is useful. But it isn’t this grand deal I think these states are making it out to be,” Owcharenko said.


Partisan gridlock over Medicaid expansion means the Mississippi legislature did not funding or re-authorize the program, it expires at the end of the month.








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