"I mean the PR, the politics, all the rest doesn't make a bit of difference. The test is when Sept. 16 comes, that in fact these 47,000 people, six percent of the Medicaid population, have they enrolled and are they taking advantage of the Medicare and other health care benefits that are available to them?" said Gov. Haley Barbour on a visit to Meridian.
And what if they have not?
"If I'm not satisfied that we're ready for that on Sept. 15, then we'll make another delay," Barbour said. "But right now, I'm confident they will be enrolled and they'll have the benefits."
Barbour said the deficit was cut from $710 million last year to $410 million this year, but further reductions will be more difficult.
"Next year, in many ways, will be a tougher year on the budget than this year. Most of the savings that we made this year were relatively easy and I think that we'll see that the Medicaid savings we'll look back six months from now and say well gee, I was wrong when I thought that was going to be so bad because it won't be bad," said the governor.
Then he repeated an argument he had used extensively throughout the election campaign.
"We're not in the worst financial shape we've ever been in because we tax too little. It's because we spend too much," said Barbour. "People know that. They expect leadership that will get control of spending and I'm trying to provide it."
The governor said there will be another round of mailouts to Medicaid recipients soon, with the forms they need for the switchover to Medicare.