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House Democrats Block Another Medicaid Bill

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 31 Mar 2013 09:21pm | comments

Mississippi's Medicaid program is again being held in limbo over the fight to expand the program to cover more residents. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports Democrats in the house have blocked funding for the existing program.

 While moving through the 106 government spending bills Sunday evening, House Democrats successfully blocked approval of an 840-million dollar Medicaid appropriation

Democrats say they stopped the funding bill for two reasons....One, to prevent the governor from running the program by executive order...and two, to force a vote on expanding Medicaid to an additional 300-thousand Mississippians which is part of the federal health care reform law.

Representative Omeria Scott of Laurel says expanding the program makes fiscal and health care sense.

“So the money for the expansion is there. These people know that. This is a philosophical divide. You just have some folks who believe it is the responsibility of the government to do for those who cannot do for themselves,” Scott said after the vote.

A report by the Mississippi institutions of Higher Learning estimates that expanding Medicaid would cost the state around 100-million dollars a year by 2025.

The vote is somewhat unexpected, especially since 5 Republicans did not vote on the bill....it failed to pass by 2 votes.

The House Republican Medicaid committee chairman Bobby Howell of Kilmichael says he was surprised that the spending bill failed to pass.

“For the life of me I cannot find the logic for many of these members to vote to kill the Medicaid appropriation. I cannot understand that,” Howell said.

The Republican leadership in both chambers opposes expanding Medicaid.

Lawmakers have until Tuesday to vote again on the Medicaid appropriations bill.

However, the battle over Medicaid expansion is likely to bring lawmakers back to the capitol for a special session before the program expires June 30th.

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