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Mississippi should say ‘yes’ to America’s offer

Dear Editor:

The Daily Leader published recently a letter signed by Robert P. Riggs of Wesson about why he thinks Mississippi should say “no” to federal funding for health insurance for about 300,000 working Mississippi families through an expansion of Medicaid.

Dr. Alton Cobb, Mississippi’s widely respected former state health officer and now chairman of Mississippi Health Care Access Coalition, has already pointed out in his own letter on this page a number of false statements in Mr. Riggs’ letter, including the fact that neither that organization, nor any local hospital administrator was involved in publishing newspaper advertisements concerning this issue. (Those ads only mentioned an excellent and informative website created by that Coalition, at www.accessms.org.)

There are many other inaccurate statements in Mr. Riggs’ letter as well. The advertisements he referred to were indeed sponsored proudly by an entirely separate citizens’ organization, Mississippians for Health Care Equality Inc, of which I am an officer, as the Mississippi secretary of state’s corporate records make clear.

Those ads also pointed out – accurately – that certain Mississippi legislators voted for Mississippi taxpayers to pay for state-sponsored health insurance coverage for legislators and their families. Those same legislators then voted this year for Mississippi not to allow federal funding to provide health insurance for the roughly 300,000 Mississippi families who now have no such insurance That is a contradiction by those legislators, and that is wrong.

Mr. Riggs also claimed in his letter that he knows that the 300,000 Mississippians who would have federally funded health insurance if Mississippi were to accept Medicaid expansion are not “productively contributing to society” and for that reason, he thinks, have no health insurance.

That too is not true. Those 300,000 Mississippians typically are earning too much from their hard work to be eligible for the existing Medicaid program.

Contrary to Mr. Riggs’ callous description of them, these are the Mississippians who every day slice chickens or catfish on assembly lines, cook food for us in restaurant kitchens, build or fix our buildings or roads, wait on us in stores or clean up after the messes we leave behind.

They work as hard as any legislator. But through no fault of theirs, the wages they get from their work are not enough to buy private health insurance for their families.

When you look at the actual facts, Mississippi should say “yes” to about one billion new dollars of economic activity each year – and about 9,000 new health care jobs – by saying “yes” to America’s offer to pay federally for health insurance for those hard-working Mississippians.

Sincerely,

Brad Pigott

President

Mississippians for Healthcare Equality Inc.