Mississippi Democrats are holding hearings to advocate for Medicaid expansion. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, they hope voters will cast their ballots for candidates who support expanding the program.
Jesse Cross-Call with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC. is at the Mississippi capitol to talk about states saving money by expanding Medicaid. Arkansas expanded it's program in 2013 and Cross-Call says they'll save more than $444 million within three years.
"When people gain healthcare states don't have to spend as much money on like behavioral health programs that serve people with low-incomes who are uninsured. It means states don't have to send as much money to hospitals to cover their uncompensated care costs because there are fewer uninsured people, said Cross-Call.
The state's Democratic Legislative Caucus is holding hearings on Medicaid expansion to encourage voter support for their candidates. Richard Roberson is with the state Hospital Association. They've come up with an alternative called Mississippi Cares. The insurance network would be funded by a federal Medicaid waiver. Roberson says there would be a $20 per month premium and hospitals would pay taxes to subsidize the remaining premium costs.
"By doing that you're putting skin in the game for providers particularly hospitals, skin in the game for patients who are contributing to their health and well-being and also leveraging that money that is available through the Affordable Care Act, said Roberson.
Jameson Taylor with the non-profit Mississippi Center for Public Policy is opposed to expanding Medicaid.
"I think to begin with the solution is going to be a community-based solution and so we can foster that by making investments in for instance charity care clinics. There are numerous clinics around the state," said Taylor.
Democratic legislators say the state could gain 30,000 jobs and help 300,000 low-income workers by expanding Medicaid