A new survey is showing that the rate of Mississippians without insurance has declined slightly, while other states are seeing their rate fall by as much as half. The difference is to what level each state accepted the health care form law.The effects of the federal health care reform law are beginning to be measured.
According to the survey by Gallup, Mississippi has the second highest rate of uninsured residents with 1 in 5 people lacking health insurance.
However, other states like Arkansas, that fully embraced the federal health care reform law, have seen dramatic declines in the uninsured rate since the law took full effect this year.
Dan Witters with Gallup says the ten states with the largest declines in the uninsured rate all choose to run their own insurance exchange and expand their Medicaid program...two options Mississippi rejected.
"What you see is a rate that is less than half the decline that is seen national. So there are a lot of states that are seeing real movement in their uninsurance rate that Mississippi is not seeing thus far," Witters said.
Expanding the state's Medicaid program would cover some 250-thousand more low-income adults, with the federal government picking up most of the cost.
Republican state lawmakers are staunchly opposing that option as unaffordable.
House public health committee chair Sam Mims of McComb says he sees no reason to change course.
"To me access to health care is not Obamacare. It is making sure we have more physicians in Mississippi. More Dentists in Mississippi. In this past legislative session we looked at a few pieces of legislation that would give our citizens more access to health care," Mims said.
Supporters of the health care reform law like Corey Wiggins with the Mississippi Economic Policy Center say the survey shows that the state should aggressively pursue all options available under the law.
"You create opportunities for better health outcomes. It also helps to reduce health disparities. But more importantly create economic opportunities. Because you have an increased demand for people who now have health insurance to get health care. And that creates opportunities for physicians and also creates jobs in this state," Wiggins said.
It remains to be seen if the results in other states will affect the way Mississippi lawmakers craft policy in the state...but the comparisons will continue.