Medicaid Solution?

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Attorney General Jim Hood says Medicaid can avoid shutting down Friday simply by borrowing more money.

The program borrowed $50 million last month to stay open until mid-March.

Hood says state law gives Medicaid the authority to borrow another $100 million, if only leaders of the program will do so.

Hood, a Democrat, says he thinks Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, is playing politics by setting an artificial date for Medicaid to run out of money.

Barbour's deputy chief of staff, John Arledge, questions the timing of Hood's announcement. He says it's strange that two days before the program goes broke, Hood says more money can be borrowed.

The House approved a plan Wednesday to take money out of the state health care trust fund. But there's a catch. The House says cigarette taxes would be raised 50 cents a pack to repay whatever is taken out of the fund.

Senate leaders say the House plan won't work and Barbour says there's no point of discussing any tax increase.

About a quarter of Mississippi's population relies on Medicaid for health coverage.

Legislators say they're being flooded with calls from patients and nursing home residents scared about the budget crisis.