Medicaid Expansion Part of Budget Discussions

By: Mike McDaniel Email
By: Mike McDaniel Email

As Mississippi state agencies make final adjustments to budget proposals for the next fiscal year, one division of state government is already becoming a focal point for next week's Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

"Medicaid expansion is going to be a part of the discussion next week, next year and probably for the next five years., said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves.

Reeves, a Republican, is opposed to any type of Medicaid expansion in the state. While he believes some type of reform is needed, Reeves says an expansion would have no long term benefit.

"There are things that have to be done to reform the healthcare system," Reeves said. "The reality is that the adding, in our state as Obamacare would do, 400,000 to 500,000 Mississippians on to the Medicaid rolls, we just don't believe is the right way to do it."

The federal government would pay for most of an expansion with about $10 billion spread out over the next five years.

Reeves says the federal money would eventually run out and more folks on the rolls would end up costing the state in the long run.

"That makes no sense to me," said state Rep. George Flaggs, a Democrat and member of the budget committee.

Flaggs says not expanding Medicaid is a disservice to the state.

As Reeves predicts another budget cut for just about every state agency, Flaggs says he's not ready to go that route just yet, especially with money available from the federal government.

"I just think that it's a no-brainer," said Flaggs. "To leave $10 billion on the table and see agencies continue to suffer and continue to under-fund Medicaid is a disaster."

Reeves says the disaster is the current Affordable Care Act and an overreach of the federal government.

"The way in which this administration went about it, while it may have been well-intentioned, it simply is not affordable for state and local governments," said Reeves.

The decision of whether to expand the program will be up to lawmakers when the session convenes next year.

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