Medicaid Controversy Not Over

By: Stan Torgerson and Sheila McLain
By: Stan Torgerson and Sheila McLain

Former Mississippi Gov. Bill Allain has zeroed in on the legislators who passed the Medicaid bill that becomes effective July 1. It will move 65,000 Medicaid recipients to Medicare.

Allain called for repeal of the bill at a special session, for which he maintained the legislators should not be paid.

"It's not likely to happen. But you know, if you buy a piece of equipment, go home and find it's broken and bring it back, you don't pay the people the second time to fix it," Allain said. "If they've broken it, they ought to fix it."

Some legislators who voted for it originally now say they didn't know what was in the bill. Allain has a suggestion to them.

"What gets me is they keep saying I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know what it meant. Well, two things. If they knew what it meant or if they couldn't read it and know what it meant, they ought to come down, they ought to fix the problem, go home and resign. Because if they can't read a bill, a blind person could read this one and tell it wasn't going to work, then I don't want them up there serving me any more. So come on down, resign, and let somebody else go up there," said Allain.

The former governor said anyone who voted for it was, in his opinion, either cruel or ignorant.

"Anybody who says, I read it and I intended to do what I did, then that's cruelty. If they say, I read it and didn't understand it, then that's ignorance and either one shouldn't be serving in the state legislature," said Allain.

But present Gov. Haley Barbour has released a two-page list of corrections to what he says is misinformation distributed to regional Medicaid forums such as the one held in Meridian Thursday.

Barbour said: "We need to reassure our patients with the facts and help them get the best care possible, not scare them for political gain. These forums should be about helping, not Halloween."

Barbour maintained the majority of recipients will have coverage under the new plan that is as good as or better than what they had.

A group of citizens plans to protest the Medicaid changes on the steps of the capitol, Thursday, July 1 at 10:00 a.m.

Former Meridian resident, Celester Ladner, said he is a Medicaid client who will be hurt by the plan. He says many lawmakers who voted for the bill have changed their minds and should be able to vote again.

"They've had enough pressure put on them that they're trying to find a way out of it," said Ladner. "They're fighting with the governor to get this thing repealed. And luckily, we've got that going for us. We've got bunches of them that have turned their minds and know the kind of mess they've done. And they're wanting out of it."

Ladner said protesters want the governor to call a special session. He said he and others can't wait until the year 2006, when the federal Medicare program will begin providing prescription drug coverage.


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