Mississippians in the so-called Medicaid Coverage Gap make up nearly forty-percent of the state's uninsured population according to a new study. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports two online petitions to expand the program in Mississippi have received more than two-thousand signatures....
The report from the Mississippi Center for Health Policy says roughly 162-thousand uninsured Mississippians fall into a coverage gap where they make too much for the existing Medicaid program but too little for the health insurance exchange.
Theresa Hannah with the center says most of those people work in jobs important to every day life such as cashiers, food workers, maids and other low wage jobs.
"And a lot of them either work for employers that don't offer insurance. Or they cannot afford the insurance or they are not eligible. A lot of people are also part time workers. They have more than one part time job but they don't offer insurance either," Hannah said.
Construction works, janitors and retail employees are also highly affected groups.
The gap exists because Mississippi lawmakers have declined to expand Medicaid, which is a part of the federal health care reform law.
But some, like 56-year old Southhaven resident Kim Walker are trying to change that.
Walker created an online petition to lobby the state government to expand the program which has collected over 800 signatures.
"Seems like a no brainer to accept federal funds to help the poor,"
At least one other online petition exists and together they have more than two-thousand signatures.
Walker himself could be one of the people in the Medicaid coverage gap, having recently been fired after 17 years as a T-V cameraman.
"I have never needed it and now all of a sudden its like 'man'. I am 56 but I play around on a skateboard with my grand kids and now I am scared to do that," Walker said.
Walker says he does not expect his petition to change much, and at least for now he appears correct as the top three Republican leaders of the state staunchly oppose expanding Medicaid.