Medicaid In Mississippi Could Cross The 1-Billion Dollar Mark
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For the first time, Mississippi's medicaid program is expected to cost more than 1-billion dollars a year. The cost of the program has doubled in just six years.

Offering health care to poor and disabled Mississippians through Medicaid is expected to cost the state just over 1-billion dollars in the upcoming fiscal year.

That projection comes from Medicaid director David Dzielak who says more people have been added to the program because of a change in how they measure a person's income.

"60,838-thousand more beneficiaries now than we had in January. So all of those factors, the ever escalating cost of Medical services, those are the things that have kept the pressure on the budget," Dzielak said.

The program now covers 775-thousand Mississippians.

The growth continues a trend that has been going on for years, which is alarming to law makers like Lt. Governor Tate Reeves who is watching Medicaid grow from around 500-million just 6 years ago.

"When you look at the total size of the pie and the total size of revenue coming into Mississippi and you ask the question 'where has it gone?' 500-million has gone to Medicaid," Reeves said.

The number could be problematic for advocates who want to expand the program to cover more Mississippians, as is an option under the health care reform law.

Expansion advocate Jarvis Dortch with the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program says it shouldn't be a factor.

"It really doesn't play into the Medicaid expansion debate. They are basically two different program. Medicaid expansion would probably help the state as a whole. So they are basically two different questions," Dortch said.

While the state is expected to spend one-billion dollars, the federal government will kick in three times that amount.