Advocates for Medicaid expansion in Mississippi are launching a new campaign today. They are highlighting the stories of people who fall in the so-called 'medicaid gap'.
The campaign, called Mississippi Left Me Out, is an effort to up the pressure on state lawmakers to expand Medicaid to cover more Mississippians.
Under the health care reform law, the state can ease access to Medicaid with the federal government picking up the lion's share of the cost.
The goal is to elevate the stories of people like 23-year old Jasmine Harrison, who is uninsured and suffers from chronic joint pain following a car accident.
"What possibly can I do to get some help? I am in this situation dealing with joint pain and there is no solution or anyone out here to help me. So I am praying about it and I am praying that the lord heals me," Harrison said.
Harrison is one of the roughly 130-thousand uninsured Mississippians who are not eligible for the existing Medicaid program and make too little money for subsidized private insurance.
She is part of the new campaign to convince state lawmakers to expand Medicaid to help people like her.
"We need help. Who could we go to to try to get some insurance. People out here are suffering. I don't feel like people should be out here suffering. If we have lawmakers that care about the citizens in Mississippi, there should be some changes out here," Harrison said.
The campaign is organized by the Mississippi Health Advocacy program which hopes the new effort will hold lawmakers feet to the fire during next year's legislative election.
The state's Republican leadership has firmly reject Medicaid expansion as an expensive explosion of a flawed system.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves also argues that he does not trust the feds to continue paying their share.
"I don't think it is just that that puts the kibosh on it. I don't anticipate that Mississippi is going to expand Medicaid in the 2015 session," Reeves said.
Expanding Medicaid is estimated to eventually cost the state around 150-million dollars a year but could also trigger roughly a billion dollars a year in federal spending.