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Governor Bryant Offers Alternative To Medicaid Expansion

January 6th, 2014

Mississippi Public Broadcasting, January 6, 2014

An alternative proposal to Medicaid expansion floated by Governor Phil Bryant could be a central issue in the 20-14 legislative session which begins tomorrow. MPB’s Jeffrey Hess reports the governor is proposing stepping in with state money to off-set cuts from the federal government…..

The Governor revived the idea in a recent interview, but also included it in his budget recommendation released in November.

At that time, Bryant said the state should give just over four million dollars to hospitals to off-set cuts included in the affordable care act.

“Our hospital are vital not only for the health care of the state of Mississippi and this economy. It is small portion of what their overall lose might be but it is a great way to begin that support,” Bryant said.

The law reduces those payments because it assumes they will be unnecessary as more people enroll in insurance or join an expanded Medicaid program.

However, the state is so far refusing to expanding the program.

David Becker with the University of Alabama Birmingham co-authored a recent study of the impact of Medicaid expansion in Mississippi.

He says the governor’s approach to replacing medicare and Medicaid cuts would cost about the same as simply expanding Medicaid in Mississippi.

“But roughly on the order that yes, you could leave 182-thousand people uninsured and we could continue a very convoluted mechanism of financing care for low income uninsured individuals and try try to preserve that system as it was,” Becker said.

However, supporters of Medicaid expansion like Ed Sivak with the Mississippi Economic Policy Center says this approach ignores other cuts which could total hundreds of million of dollars a year.

“146-million dollars in 2014. 250-million dolars in 2015. And if the approach isto fill in the gap so we can keep our hospitals whole, than we need to look at the big picture. The total picture so we can have these important source of economic activity,” Sivac said.

Whether or not to expand Medicaid or replace the federal cuts could be a big topic of conversation in the 90 day legislative session, that starts tomorrow.