Calling lawmakers back to Jackson during a regular session may have never before happened. Gov. Haley Barbour said he had no choice when the House at 9:30 a.m. Friday adjourned for the weekend without addressing funding for the Medicaid program, which went broke Friday.
Legislative negotiators for the House did remain but made no apparent progress on a Medicaid solution. The Senate remained in session as usual.
Barbour said the only way to address the $268 million Medicaid deficit is to tap the Tobacco Trust Fund. Some others like Rep. Greg Snowden of Meridian agree with him.
"You've got the money sitting there in a savings account, if you will, in the Tobacco Trust Fund. Nobody's really thrilled about going in and taking that money, but it is set aside for healthcare," said Snowden. "And this is definitely a healthcare need, and frankly, it's the only source of money sitting there available to the state."
The governor says one out of every four Mississippians is depending on state leaders to act now and not wait. Some people admit they're scared.
"I suppose we'll die, because we don't have the money for this kind of medication," said Alice Armes of Meridian, gesturing toward a row of pill bottles on a table next to her.
"My feeling is that a whole bunch of us are going to die with congestive heart failure, MS and lack of medicine. If they cut the Medicaid out, they might as well take a gun and shoot us," said Armes' neighbor, Bonnie Underwood.
"We shouldn't have people worrying about whether or not they're going to have Medicaid coverage," said Snowden. "We shouldn't be spinning our wheels like this. We need to tend to business and the House has not done that."
The special session is set to begin Saturday at 1:00 p.m.