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Miss. Republicans Weigh In on President Obama’s Budget Proposal

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 11 Apr 2013 03:43pm | comments

Leading Mississippi Republican officials say they are excited by at least one part of President Barack Obama's budget proposal. The President is recommending a one-year delay in some reductions in Medicaid payments to hospitals.

 Top Republicans, including the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House were quick to say the President's recommended delay in payments -known as dish payments-reinforced their decision not to expand Medicaid.

 The recommendation, says Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, brings all of the potential cuts into question.  

"Now we have Obamacare's biggest supporter, the president himself, saying that dish payments should not be cut for Mississippi or any other state at least until 2015. I think that sends a clear signal that DSH payments aren't going away," says Reeves.

 The payments offset what hospitals spend in uncompensated care and are set to be reduced as part of the federal health care reform law.

 Hospitals in the state say those reductions would be very damaging; damage that the law intends to be offset by more people having Medicaid.

 Democratic caucus Leader Bobby Moak of Bouge Chitto says he considers the recommendation a warning to state's like Mississippi that are skeptical of expanding Medicaid.

 "Because Medicare cuts are still going to occur October 2013, in about 6 more months around here. And you can't suffer Medicare and Medicaid at the same time, so you need to get ready for that," says Moak.

 Supporters of Medicaid expansion, like Ed Sivak with the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, point out that this is a recommendation that doesn't change existing law.

 "It is important to point out that this is acutally just a proposal and it still has to go through Congress. It also doesn't change the debate on Medicaid expansion. It remains an incredible opportunity for Mississippi," says Sivak.

 The current Medicaid program was not re-authorized by the state legislature due to the fight over Medicaid expansion.

 It expires at the end of June.

 The Governor will likely call a special session to address the program before it sunsets.




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