It’s Time To Revisit Medicaid Expansion
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I think it’s time that we take a fresh look at a highly controversial decision made several years ago that has cost Mississippi several billion dollars so far, and has lessened the healthcare coverage for 300,000 mostly, working Mississippians. This decision has cost the hospitals in our state and healthcare providers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. I’m talking, of course, about Medicaid expansion.
For some reason, the idea of accepting this federal support for our local hospitals and healthcare providers and offering working Mississippians the chance at health care coverage created a significant resistance from some of Mississippi’s political leaders.
But, that was then. Now, here we are: in the middle of a pandemic with front line workers taking the brunt of it, many of them without health care coverage due to the aforementioned decision-making.
It is no secret that many of our hospitals and healthcare providers are strained to the point of breaking, trying to keep their employees safe while offering a surge of critically ill Mississippians expert care and hope to live. Something else that hospitals and healthcare providers have to worry about: absorbing the costs of care for those who can’t pay for treatment.
Of course, if we expanded Medicaid, losing that money wouldn’t be a concern for our hospitals or healthcare providers. Why? Because they would have been reimbursed for those expenses.
There are other ideas out there to address these critical issues, including the establishment of an exchange insurance system that would provide low income workers coverage. Not only would it help during these tragic times, it would provide folks who work for a living the medications they need for things like cancer, heart disease, diabetes – three potentially deadly conditions that are all too present in our state.
People like Mike Pence saw the wisdom of expanding healthcare to working people when he was governor of Indiana. Other conservative states like Missouri, Nebraska, Idaho and Utah came to the same conclusion. Our neighbors, Arkansas and Louisiana, did too. Mississippi is regrettably one of the 12 states yet to take advantage of Medicaid Expansion for its workers and their families, and their states’ hospitals and healthcare providers.
Hopefully, it’s not too late for us. There is a proposal being circulated that would allow those who would have qualified under Medicaid expansion to come under the coverage provided by federal law in the nonparticipating states. Workers would pay a reduced premium, be able to select their health care providers, and, importantly, take medication to treat their chronic, sometimes deadly, conditions. Plus, hospitals and health care providers would get paid.
Failing that, expanding Medicaid could be brought forward as an initiative effort. Where that has happened, the people have overwhelmingly voted to approve it, as in Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma and Nebraska. I think that might be the case in Mississippi, too.
This issue bears watching and promoting. I will be doing my part. Offering our hard working Mississippians healthcare coverage is the compassionate and sane thing to do.
If I can be of any assistance to you, please call on me. My local office telephone number is 662-647-3203 and my mailing address is P. O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS, 38921 or my email address is thomasurey