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Special Session Brings Miss. Legislature Back to Deal With Medicaid

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 27 Jun 2013 06:00am | comments

Mississippi lawmakers could be in for a series of long days and late nights during a special legislative session which begins at 10:00 am today. State lawmakers could be working down to the final minutes to re-new Medicaid before it expires Sunday night.

 All 174 Senators and Representatives are heading back to the capitol today to try and pass a plan to keep Medicaid alive and funded.

 The program will cease to exist just at midnight Sunday, and long time political columnist Sid Salter says there is a chance that legislators could go down to the wire Sunday night before reviving the program.

 "This kind of vote is one that has far reaching impact for these law makers when they face the voters again," Salter said.

 Because of a partisan dispute over expanding Medicaid, lawmakers left Jackson in April without authorizing the program to exist beyond the end of the current budget year.

 Salter says Democrats, who are pushing for expansion, will try every thing they can to force debate and vote and therefore Republicans will proceed carefully which will also draw out the process.

 "It behooves them to not make a procedural error that would allow a proponent of expansion to capitalize on that. And there are some democrats in both houses that have that kind of ability. So I think you are going to see a very strategic, plodding approch to these votes," Salter said.

 Democratic leadership says they have a plan to spark a debate on Medicaid expansion but are keep quiet about specifics.

 Some Republicans believe such a debate would not be allowed because it is not part of the Governor's special session call.

 Marty Wisemann with the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University says Democrats could use the drama of a long special session to draw attention to Medicaid expansion.

 "They know they don't have the votes to craft a plan to carry it themselves but the information that hits the airwaves is going to be what is important," Wisemann said.

 Medicaid covers more than 700-thousand Mississippians.

 Democrats want to expand it to another 300,000 working poor but Republicans say the state can't afford that.

 Every day of a special session costs more than 40-thousand dollars.







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