Special Session Called by Governor

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Jackson, Miss.

Gov. Phil Bryant has called a special session that will be focused on Medicaid.

Lawmakers failed to pass legislation to re-authorize funding for the program during the regular session.

Now, the fight will continue in the House and Senate Thursday.

The governor's office sent out the official proclamation calling the special session around 2:30 Monday.

In a statement, Bryant said it's unfortunate that some lawmakers chose to make a political point during the regular session instead of acting responsibly.

The special session will begin just three days before Medicaid funding is set to expire.

Bryant has called on quick action by legislators when the session starts. But for those enrolled in Medicaid, they're worried.

"You shouldn't play politics with people's lives," said Anthony Giardina, a medicaid enrollee. "I mean whether you're a Democrat or a Republican you should be able to have the compassion to care for the ones who need the help."

Giardina says he can't afford the prescriptions he needs without the help of Medicaid.

"They don't do anything," Giardina said. "That's when my clock, quote 'death clock' starts ticking."

Reauthorization will be taken up first in the session. Still, positions on expanding Medicaid are split in more than just the legislature.

Those who work closely with patients on a daily basis have different concerns. The Mississippi Hospital Association said in a statement:

"The Mississippi Hospital Association supports Medicaid expansion as a way to cover more Mississippians and cut uncompensated care costs for our state's hospitals as disproportionate share hospitals. Payments gradually diminish under the Affordable Care Act."

At the other end of the debate stands the Mississippi State Medical Association. Its president, Dr. Steve Demetropolous, said, "Physicians fear that an expansion of Medicaid may not be financially sustainable and will impose on the state unintended consequences that will weaken provider capacity which is inadequate now and will worsen."

No matter what's done in the special session, people like Giardina say they hope lawmakers consider Medicaid as the source of thousands of lifelines.

"All they’re doing is juggling and playing with our lives," said Giardina.

Last week, Attorney General Jim Hood said Gov. Bryant doesn't have legal authority to operate Medicaid by executive order.