AG Attempts Delay in Cuts

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Attorney General Jim Hood said Thursday he's intervening in a lawsuit to try to at least temporarily block Medicaid cuts. Hood said he wants a federal court to delay the cuts long enough for lawyers to find out whether people losing Medicaid coverage have been given enough notice about other health care options available to them.

Hood said he will file court papers early Friday. A hearing is set for Friday afternoon, the same day 65,000 people are to be removed from Medicaid in a cost-cutting plan proposed by Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour's spokesman, Pete Smith, did not immediately respond to Hood's announcement.

On Monday, several groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Medicaid cuts. Hood said he's intervening on the side of those who filed the suit, and the attorney general's office will not represent the governor or the Division of Medicaid in court.

Hood said the governor's office and the Medicaid program are authorized to hire private attorneys.

The Barbour administration received federal permission to maintain Medicaid coverage for about 17,000 of those who were to have been cut.