State economist releases report on potential impacts of Medicaid expansion in Mississippi

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 11:54 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Thousands of Mississippians fall in what’s called the “coverage gap.”

They make too much to be eligible for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. That’s why you hear Medicaid expansion brought up by state leaders each year.

Now, State Economist Corey Miller has released a report that puts politics aside and focuses purely on the numbers and potential impacts.

“My position has not changed,” is what Governor Tate Reeves said earlier this year. “I am opposed to expanding Medicaid in Mississippi.”

“From what I know about it, we cannot afford it,” noted Speaker Philip Gunn as the 2021 legislative session wrapped up.

But this latest report from the state economist says it states that the costs savings would allow the state to expand Medicaid with little to no additional costs for at least the first decade of expansion.

“It takes this whole narrative that it costs too much and we can’t afford it,” noted Mississippi Hospital Association General Counsel Richard Robertson. “It totally debunks that.”

The report estimates expansion could lead to more than 11-thousand jobs a year on average from 2022 to 2027. The Mississippi Hospital Association has been asking policy makers to consider these elements for several years.

“This makes sense from a human standpoint but it absolutely makes sense from a financial standpoint,” added Roberson. “So, if you’re not moved on the basis of human reasons, you ought to be moved on the basis of financial reasons. And it’s really fiscally irresponsible to not do this for the state of Mississippi.”

Beyond the numbers, we’re talking about the potential of more than 200-thousand more Mississippians that could have health insurance coverage. House minority leader Robert Johnson says there has been more chatter in the Capitol.

“I can tell you, in the last session, there was movement among the rank and file conservatives about doing something because all of them are facing a crisis at home with hospitals, hospital beds and emergency rooms,” said Rep. Robert L. Johnson, III.

But he doesn’t know how much the report will make a difference.

“You know, if it suits somebody’s political agenda, yeah, it moves the needle,” explained Johnson. “But if it goes... I haven’t seen one that’s contrary... to like I said, this information, I mean be able to go back and look at the the report from the research center in 2012. It’s essentially the same. They make the same arguments in that report, and they ignored it then.”

An interesting note, the report suggests expansion could also bring more people into the Magnolia State... to the tune of 3,300 to 11,500 new residents a year.

We’ll keep you posted on whether the report gains any traction as it gets closer to the legislative session.

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