Legislators Continue Medicaid Expansion DiscussionBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Apr 2013 04:17pm |
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Mississippi appear to be holding firm on whether or not the state should expand its Medicaid program. The clock is ticking on the future Medicaid in Mississippi.
Lawmakers finished their three-month session last week without passing bills to re-approve or spend money on the existing Medicaid program.
The expansion is an option under the federal health care reform law, and that debate is the main reason lawmakers failed to re-authorize of fund Medicaid.
While speaking at a press forum Monday, Representative Andy Gipson of Braxton expressed skepticism that the state could afford to put more people on Medicaid.
"We are have struggled to fund the program we already have. And knowing that the federal government may pay a portion of it for the next two or three years is not enough comfort for me to go ahead and say lets expand this and take on the whole program. Certainly, we don't have the funds to do that. That is the bottom line," Gipson said.
Speaking at the same event, Democratic Senator David Blount of Jackson supported expansion saying state lawmakers could find the $50 million dollars a year in order to provide health care to 300,000 thousand more residents.
"First of all, I think we need to admit that Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. And we need to follow the law." said Blount. "Secondly, Mississippians are going to be pay taxes for the Affordable Care Act whether we choose to participate in this program or not. And we ought to recognize a good deal when we see it."
The impasse could grow more pressing as time wears on.
The Mississippi Medicaid program is set to expire June 30th.
Governor Phil Bryant is expected to call a special session to deal with the issue, but he says he will not do that until a deal between the two parties is in place.
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