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The First Mississippi Republican Expresses Support For Medicaid Expansion

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 27 May 2013 05:16pm | comments

A Mississippi Republican state Senator is the first in his party to publicly express support for expanding Medicaid.  Senator Billy Hudson of Hattiesburg is bucking state party leadership on the issue.

Senator Hudson says he has been in support of expanding Medicaid to 300-thousand more Mississippians since the start of the year, but his support is only now becoming public.

Hudson says it is an easy choice because thousands of jobs rely on the hospitals in Forrest county.

"We have one of largest county owned hospitals in the state. And it is very, very important to us because of the fine quality of health care we give here and because of the economic impact it has on our county," Hudson said.

However it is about more than numbers, Hudson also says his support grows out of concern for the most vulnerable citizens.

"Can we afford not to? Can we afford to have people die earlier than they would have died? Or for people to be in misery or pain that don't need to be," Hudson said.

Hudson is now the first elected Mississippi Republican to support Medicaid expansion and says he thinks there are enough other Republicans who quietly support it for it to be approved in the state legislature.

The federal Health Care Reform law gives states the opinion to expand while offering lots of financial support.

The move is the opposite of the three major republican leaders in the state; The Governor, Lt. governor, and Speaker of the House.

Governor Phil Bryant says Hudson can have his opinion but he still believes expanding Medicaid is the wrong move.

"That is just Senator Hudson's own opinion of it. It is something I hope he will reflect upon and we will see soon how he votes," Bryant said.

Lawmakers left Jackson without a plan to re-authorize, fund, or expand Medicaid which expires at the end of June.

Bryant will have to call them back for a special session.

He has not said when he will do that, but it is unlikely he will do it before June when the Division of Medicaid will begin sending out letters notifying recipients about changes, and the possible end, of their Medicaid coverage.

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