JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi Democrats are hopeful about the chance for bi-partisan support on several issues. Wednesday, the Democratic Caucus held a briefing focused on its healthcare agenda. They’re now saying they have company in the push for Medicaid expansion.
“We see the ice breaking so to speak,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. David Baria.
They say more Republicans seem open to the idea. But here’s what Governor Bryant told WLBT last week.
“Not at all. No, I think, if you see, in fact, yesterday I looked at a poll that said the majority of Americans believe that... our federal judge in Texas ruled correctly, and we believe that Obamacare is unconstitutional," said Bryant. “We said so from the very first day. I think it will be overturned or the United States Supreme Court will overturn Obamacare.”
Democrats say the buck shouldn’t stop there.
“He can say anything he wants to say, but we have a lot of people who are running for higher office in this state and those are the people, not the Governor, people running for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, each one of them, a legislature, all of a sudden in an election year, all of them are for Medicaid expansion in an election year," explained Rep. Robert Johnson. "Nobody’s going to say ‘no.’ So, it’s incumbent upon us to press that button.”
2019 gubernatorial candidate Robert Foster is among the Republicans who are saying they’re open to a different form of expansion.
“A serious look at waivers and a potential way for us to allow people that can afford pay into that to help pay for the state’s match," Foster said. "If there’s a way for us to do that financially, we ought to look into it because we’re turning away a tremendous amount of federal money every year.”
So, who would expansion help? Dems say it would help working Mississippians and the state’s small and rural hospitals that have been taking the full burden of uninsured patients.
“These are the 300,000 Mississippians who make too much to be included right now in the existing Medicaid program, but they just do not make enough money to pay for private health insurance,” described Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Sen. Derrick Simmons.