Speculation about expanding Medicaid in Mississippi continues to gain attention at the capitol. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, advocates are hopeful.
Legislators and healthcare advocates are meeting with the executive director of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid to learn more about it's budget. Director Drew Snyder says enrollment has declined, saving some money. That means no budget shortfall this year. Federal and state dollars fund the health insurance program, which received $5.85 billion last year according to their financial report. When the question turned to Medicaid expansion Snyder said,
"Medicaid expansion is not on our agenda in any way and we're focused on responsibly providing access to quality care for beneficiaries and better value to the tax payer," said Snyder.
Snyder said expanding Medicaid is up to the legislature. Roy Mitchell of Mississippi Health Advocacy took that as a hopeful sign. He says Governor Phil Bryant has opposed the move. Mitchell says maybe he's stepping back from the issue.
"Every poll says the majority of Mississippians support Medicaid expansion. The most recent said 3 out of 5 Mississippians support Medicaid expansion. So, if the governor is going to step out of the way and let the legislature decide this let it be," said Mitchell.
But yesterday morning, the governor said a judge already ruled the Affordable Care Act which provides for expanding Medicaid is unconstitutional.
"I believe that will go to the United States Supreme Court. I believe the supreme court will overturn it. It would be a fool's errand for us to expand Medicaid and the supreme court overturn the very law that establishes that expansion," said Bryant.
About 24 percent of Mississippi's nearly 3 million residents are enrolled in Medicaid.