Medicaid scare tactics must stop and solution be found

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2008

With the spin that different sides are putting on the Medicaidcrisis it is no doubt there is confusion and frustration being feltby health care providers as well as the public in general.

One special interest group purchased an ad in The DAILY LEADERrecently taking to task the votes of two area legislators. TheMississippi Health Advocacy Program chided Rep. Becky Currie andRep. Sam Mims for their position on the Medicaid debate, callingthem the “Jack and Jill” of the House of Representatives andquestioning their loyalty to their constituents.

The purpose of the ad, of course, is to put pressure on the twoRepublican legislators to change their position.

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In response to the ad, King’s Daughters Medical Centercirculated e-mails to hospital staffers supporting Currie, whosedistrict includes the hospital, and praising her support for thefacility. The praise came despite the fact that KDMC will facebudget cuts of $250,000 per month and may have to lay off as manyas 80 employees should a solution not be found by Aug. 5. Deepeningthe problem, the hospital says, is the fact that in December theycould be forced to default on a $6 million bond if a Medicaidagreement is not reached.

Why the hospital would come out in support of a position thatultimately could hurt the hospital shows the complexity of theproblem as well as the depth of the politics. Elsewhere on thispage are guest columns written by two veteran Mississippilegislators. Both are loyal Democrats but with differing views onthe crisis.

Mississippi stands at a crisis that could cripple health careand economic development in the state for years to come. What we donot understand is why Gov. Haley Barbour or House Speaker BillyMcCoy is willing to take the health care system to the mat overtobacco taxes.

A compromise in this crisis is for the House leadership to setthe tobacco tax increase aside until January and deal with the $90million shortfall through the plan approved by the Senate. Thegovernor has already acquiesced for a tobacco tax in 2009 – butjust not to fund Medicaid. Republicans and Democrats can get whatthey want and the crisis is settled. In the meantime, the scaretactics need to stop!