House, Senate Work Weekend

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Mississippi lawmakers met for several hours in special session Saturday and returned to the Capitol Sunday.

The House passed a bill to give Medicaid $49 million, but Barbour says that would only put lawmakers back at the Capitol in a couple of weeks to fight about Medicaid's budget again.

The Senate passed a bill to let the state sell part of the future settlement payments from a tobacco lawsuit to get quick cash for Medicaid. Senate leaders hoped the move would generate between $200 million and $240 million. The state would repay $20 million a year over 20 years, a total of $400 million.

Senators compared it to what many lottery winners do, selling the winnings to get a smaller amount of money quickly rather than collecting the full amount of the prize over a long period.

Barbour called legislators into session because Medicaid is about to run out of money.

Officials had been saying that Medicaid would be broke Friday, but Medicaid's director, Dr. Warren Jones, said Saturday that the program expects to have between $3 million and $4 million on hand come Monday morning.

Jones said Medicaid needs about $18 million to pay bills for a week, but some top legislators say the program needs $14 million a week.

Legislators have been meeting in regular session since early January. Leaders say they have never heard of a governor calling a special session in Mississippi while a regular session is already under way.


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