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State Agencies Closely Watching Medicaid Fight

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 28 Apr 2013 12:43pm | comments

While the faceoff between Democrats and Republicans continues over Mississippi's Medicaid program, state agencies are taking a close look at how the failure to revive Medicaid could impact them. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the department of health could be one of the most hard hit agencies if the program is not renewed.

"If Medicaid itself is not renewed, we're sunk,"

That's state Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier.

Her agency, the Mississippi Department of Health, is highly dependent on funding that comes through the Medicaid program for the care that they provide.

She says it is pre-mature to gauge what precise impact the end of Medicaid would have, but she knows it would be deep.

"If medicaid itself is not renewed, we lose a good bit of income that covers a lot of people within the health department. Because about a third of funding in this state are special funds. And some large portion of those special funds are Medicaid. So about about a quarter of our total funding is from Medicaid," Currier said.

The failure to re-new Medicaid during the  session even meant that a technical change the agency sought did not happen, forcing them to send out notices to 82 employees that they will lose their job on July First.

But hundreds or even thousands of other jobs in the state depend on Democrats and Republicans ending their showdown over the future of the Medicaid program.

It will require another special session, something Governor Phil Bryant says he won't call until Democrats back down from their effort to expand the program.

"As soon as they decide that they want to re-authorize Medicaid in its current form than we will do it immediately. They are trying to hold hostage the current Medicaid population and threatening to kill Medicaid if we don't expand," Bryant said.

But Democrats, and their caucus leader Representative Bobby Moak of Bouge Chitto, say adding 300-thousand more Mississippians to the rolls is too good to pass up.

"If we don't have expansion in this state and we stay just the same way we are. We don't debate it. We don't institute it. Than businesses within this state are going to get hit with additional taxes. And you could possible see 30%-plus of your health care providers gone," Moak said.

The clock is ticking; the legal authorization for the program expires July first.

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