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Mississippi House Passes Speaker...

Mississippi House Passes Speaker White’s Medicaid Expansion Bill

By: Frank Corder - February 28, 2024

House vote on HB 1725 to expand Medicaid

  • Only 20 Republicans voted against the legislation after the House has rejected calls to expand the welfare program for a decade.

The Mississippi House of Representatives has passed Medicaid expansion as put forward by Speaker Jason White.

Speaker Jason White, January 2, 2024. (Photo: Sarah Ulmer/Magnolia Tribune)

Republicans in the chamber under former Speaker Philip Gunn grew to hold a supermajority in the House. They, along with Governor Tate Reeves, have rejected calls to expand the welfare program for a decade.

Now, just two months into White’s tenure, only 20 Republicans voted against the new Speaker’s expansion legislation, leaving it to pass the chamber by a vote of 96-20.

In an interview with Magnolia Tribune on Tuesday, Speaker White said there is a Medicaid coverage gap, and an answer must be provided addressing it. His bill includes direction to the Division of Medicaid to negotiate with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to obtain approval for a work requirement that would limit participation to those actively employed or enrolled full-time in an education program.

The legislation, the Healthy Mississippi Works Act, states that even if the work requirement is not approved by CMS, Medicaid would be directed to expand the rolls to the new eligibility group – adults between 19 and 64 with an income threshold up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) – with a deadline of September of this year to obtain the work waiver.

While White is hopeful that the work requirement will be approved, the likelihood of the approval remains in doubt based on court rulings in other states which have struck those provisions down. In addition, the Biden Administration has not approved a single Medicaid work requirement since the President took office.

Speaker White has referred to the bill as a “pilot program” to establish data regarding this specific population. He said the legislation would not cost the state any additional money due to the offset to the enhanced reimbursement and a provision to take a four percent premium, or tax, from the Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) who will be required to cover this new eligibility group. White is basing the cost estimates on adding roughly 200,000 individuals to the Medicaid rolls.

However, as previously reported by Magnolia Tribune, Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney has said he does not believe the four percent premium tax to MCOs will cover all of the expected costs to this new group.

The bill – HB 1725 – does contain a repealer that would bring it back before lawmakers in four years. 

The measure passed out of the House Medicaid Committee Tuesday afternoon and made its way to the House floor on Wednesday.

State Rep. Missy McGee (R), chair of the House Medicaid Committee and co-author of the measure, presented the bill to the members, saying it was “a moral imperative.” She said lawmakers “need to feel” the weight of the state of the healthcare system in Mississippi.

State Rep. Missy McGee

“No one has presented a better and more affordable way. And no is not a policy that has helped or will help low income, working Mississippians,” McGee told the chamber.

No questions were posed to McGee and a vote was demanded from the floor as soon as she finished presenting the legislation.

How They Voted

All Democrats present supported the Speaker’s Medicaid expansion bill. Only two Democrats – Rep. Solomon Osborne (HD 32) and Rep. Gregory Holloway (HD 76) – did not vote.

As for Republicans, 20 voted against Medicaid expansion. They were:

  • Rep. Chuck Blackwell (HD 88)
  • Rep. Randy Boyd (HD 19)
  • Rep. Elliot Burch (HD 105)
  • Rep. Carolyn Crawford (HD 121)
  • Rep. Dan Eubanks (HD 25)
  • Rep. Jill Ford (HD 73)
  • Rep. Jeffery Guice (HD 114)
  • Rep. Jeff Hale (HD 24)
  • Rep. Rodney Hall (HD 20)
  • Rep. Greg Haney (HD 118)
  • Rep. Doc Harris (HD 28)
  • Rep. Stacey Hobgood-Wilkes (HD 108)
  • Rep. Celester Hurst (HD 75)
  • Rep. Justin Keen (HD 6)
  • Rep. Bill Kinkade (HD 52)
  • Rep. Timmy Ladner (HD 93)
  • Rep. Vince Mangold (HD 53)
  • Rep. Jansen Owen (HD 106)
  • Rep. Kimberly Remak (HD 7)
  • Rep. Lance Varner (HD 62)

Those Republicans not voting were Rep. Becky Currie (HD 92), Kevin Felsher (HD 117), Rep. Sam Mims (HD 97), and Rep. Mark Tullos (HD 79).

Next Steps

The legislation will now head across the Capitol for consideration by the Senate.

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, the chamber’s presiding officer, has shown a willingness to entertain the notion of expanding Medicaid but indicated this week it would be contingent on the approval of the work requirement. Whether that is the position of the members of the Senate remains to be seen.

There are bills pending in the Senate that would also expand Medicaid.

Governor Reeves Reacts

Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Governor Tate Reeves took issue with the House legislation, posting to X (formerly Twitter) calling the bill “straight Medicaid expansion.”

Representative McGee keeps saying – over and over – that her bill is for working people. The truth is this: her bill passed by the House committee yesterday is straight Obamacare Medicaid Expansion.

Applies to as many as 300,000 able-bodied adults who could work but may choose not to… And there is NO (real) work requirement.

And – on Day 1 – 145,000 people will be moved from private insurance plans to government health care.

HB1725 is EXACTLY like Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama intended it to be written when they passed Obamacare.  

More free stuff for everyone – except for taxpayers… who get to pay for it all!!

Reeves has consistently opposed attempts at Medicaid expansion both during his time as Governor and prior when he served as Lt. Governor.

Should the legislation reach his desk, it is likely that Reeves would veto it, sending it back to lawmakers. However, given the vote tally on Wednesday in the House, the veto math would be tricky at best.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: