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Medicaid Special Session Continues

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 28 Jun 2013 06:00am | comments

The special session of the Mississippi legislature is entering its second day. Critical issues still need to be resolved in order to revive Medicaid before it expires Sunday night.


 Because of the closeness of the vote, Lawmakers in the House took the first crack at bills to re-authorize and fund Medicaid.


Both bills passed with strong majorities of both parties supporting them, but not before Democrats like Representative Adrienne Wooten of Jackson appealed to lawmakers to expand Medicaid to to cover 300-thousand additional residents.


"You reprsent 26,000 plus people and I would venture to say that most of them are working class folks. The majority of them working class poor. How dare you sit there and say that you have a choice," Wooten said.


The partisan divide over Medicaid expansion, which is part of the health care reform law, is the main reason law makers did not re-authorize the program during their regular session.


But a huge issue still remains.


Lawmaker have not approved a bill that authorizes nearly 400-million dollars in taxes that help pay for Medicaid....that bill requires a three-fifths majority and will therefore need democratic support.


However, Republicans removed a provision called a repealer, that requires Medicaid be re-authorized every year.


Democrats badly want that measure.


Republican Representative Tracy Arnold of Booneville says removing the repealer builds confidence in Medicaid.


"This will give our local people some confidence that Medicaid is going to be there for the people that need it and the people that paid for it. And I am glad today because this scares a lot of our seniors into thinking they are going to lose their coverage and their benefits. And our seniors have paid for these benefits and they deserve them. And today I believe our legislature stood up for you," Arnold said.


But Democratic Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland says it is good governance to re-examine the program every year.


"I am concerned about the repealer. And I think we should continue to have oversight and take a look at Medicaid, especially with every thing that is going on at the federal level. So I think the Senate should have an opportunity to vote on it," Simmons said.


The Senate has not voted on anything so far, they will likely get their chance today.








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