The Mississippi Hospital Association Board is supporting an effort to allow voters to decide whether Medicaid should be expanded in the state.
Tim Moore, with the state hospital association has created a non-profit organization called Healthcare for Mississippi to sponsor Initiative 76. Preliminary work has begun on the constitutional amendment, which requires 106,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot. It would allow Mississippians to decide if they want to expand Medicaid. Moore says the hospital association board voted Friday to support the initiative.
“It’s important that everybody realize this is not an entitlement program. It’s not a welfare program. This is an insurance program that is pushed out by the federal government that assists those who cannot afford any other option,” said Moore.
Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation with the lowest health outcomes. Expanding Medicaid would provide health coverage for the working poor. The state would be required to pay 10 percent of the cost and the federal government would cover the rest. Moore says 15 to 20 groups have joined the effort. The Mississippi NAACP is one of them. Executive Director Corey Wiggins says advocates have lobbied the legislature to expand Medicaid, but there isn’t enough support.
“That’s not a political problem. That is a problem where we need our political leaders, or elected leaders to stand up to address. And they failed to do so. And so now Mississippians are saying like: ‘Hey we want to do this. We want to be at the forefront of making sure that we can take care of ourselves and folks have access to healthcare,’” said Wiggins.
Moore says in 2019 Mississippi hospitals provided $618 million in uncompensated care. And due to the pandemic he says some rural hospitals could close. He says he’s confident they’ll get the signatures needed by the October 2021 deadline.