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Survey Shows Broad Support for Medicaid Expansion in Miss.

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 May 2013 07:24am | comments

Sixty percent of Mississippians say that the state should expand its Medicaid program. That's according to a survey of five states in the deep south, including Mississippi. The apparent public support is in direct contrast to resistance to Medicaid expansion among Mississippi's Republican leadership.


Three pro-health care reform groups polled 2500 people in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, George and South Carolina about their opinion on Medicaid expansion.


Ron Everett with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies says the poll found that 58% of Mississippians.


"Political opposition to the expansion is strong. Our new poll, however, finds solid public support across the south for the expansion of the Medicaid program," Everett said.


All four other states in the poll had higher rates of support for Medicaid expansion, which is part of the federal health care reform law.


The amount of support among African-Americans was even higher, with 85% supporting expansion.


Roughly a dozen states are currently opposing Medicaid expansion.


Brian Smedley, a health policy analyst, says that could create a duel health care system where states that accept expansion have far better health outcomes than states that do not.


"Colon cancer death rates in states opposing the expansion are on average 16% higher than in pro-expansion states. Similarly, deaths from breast cancer are on average 8% higher in anti-expansion states. And adults under the age of 65 are 40% more likely on average to have lost six or more teeth from decay, infection or gum disese," Smedley said.


Top Mississippi Republicans including the Governor, Speaker of the House, and Lt. Governor all oppose expansion.


Lt. Governor Tate Reeves says Mississippi cannot afford to add 300,000 new people to the rolls.


"We think the prudent course of action, which is exactly what we did during the session, is re-authorize the agency for one year. Come back in January and determine what the course of action will be at that time. But at this time I remain adamantly opposed tot he expansion," Reeves said.


State lawmakers did not re-authorize or fund Medicaid during the regular session because of the fight over Medicaid expansion, the program expires at the end of June.






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