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Dems Hold Hearing About Expanding Medicaid Ahead of Nov. 5

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Dems Hold Hearing About Expanding Medicaid Ahead of Nov. 5
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Professor Sara Miller Answering Question at Hearing
Desare Frazier

Mississippi Democrats are working to keep Medicaid expansion on the minds of voters ahead of the November elections. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

Mississippi has a crisis in the rate of women dying due to child birth according to Georgetown University Professor Adam Searing. He says rates are rising nationwide. But Searing says states that expanded Medicaid have a lower average rate of 9 percent as opposed to Mississippi which is at 18 percent.

"So this is a huge difference. So when states have expanded Medicaid, there's an immediate impact on getting healthcare to women who are going to be in this demographic," said Searing.

Searing is at a Democratic Legislative Hearing to talk about the benefits of Medicaid expansion. He says the healthcare program provides preventive care and more access to needed medical services. Representative Jarvis Dortch of Jackson says when voters go to the polls and they want them to understand how expanding Medicaid could help them and medical providers.

"We have so many hospitals that are seeing patients who aren't able to pay for their treatment so they're having to deal with an extreme amount of uncompensated care. Medicaid expansion would add a $1 billion dollars to our state a year to help pay for those things," said Dortch.

House Republican Tracy Arnold of Booneville says he wants to expand healthcare coverage but not through the traditional Medicaid program. He says hospital administrators say an expansion could hurt rural ones.

"The reimbursements are so low, that they couldn't pay for the services provided, which would put our hospitals in a worse financial shape than they've probably ever been in before," said Arnold.

A professor from Michigan where Medicaid was expanded in 2014, says they found that the expansion led to fewer unpaid bills, bankruptcies and overdrawn credit cards among enrollees. Another hearing is scheduled for October 22.