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House leaders bungle Medicaid challenge

House leaders bungle Medicaid challenge

By: Magnolia Tribune - June 3, 2008

House leaders bungle Medicaid challenge

The leadership of the Mississippi House of Representatives has a lot to answer for. Because if its intransigence, the state continues to muddle along without a Medicaid fix.

Why is a fix important?

Well, because of Mississippi’s high poverty rate, for every dollar Mississippi puts into Medicaid, the federal government puts in three. That’s not money we can afford to snub.

In 2005, the federal government blocked part of Mississippi’s complex Medicaid formula. Since then, the state has cobbled together other sources to cover the state’s part of the match. That included millions of federal dollars the state received for increased Medicaid expenses after Hurricane Katrina.

But a permanent fix must be found.

Under Barbour’s plan, hospitals would have to pay a single new tax to replace three old taxes. The new tax would be based on days of patient care a hospital provides.

The Senate passed Barbour’s proposal; the House voted against it.

House leaders say they’re unsure what the impact would be on insurance-paying patients.

Instead, the House trotted out raising the tobacco tax, again – and that’s a dead issue for both the Senate and Barbour.

The House favors, absent an agreement, taking the money out of the state’s rainy day fund. That’s a bad idea, and irresponsible.

Hattiesburg American

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Magnolia Tribune

This article was produced by Magnolia Tribune staff.