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Discord in party over Medicaid expansion

Medicaid expansion has, until recently, been a non-starter here in Mississippi. Anything related to Obamacare was met with stiff resistance.

But Medicaid Executive Director Drew Snyder has said he is looking at the possibility of expansion. Even Gov. Phil Bryant has reportedly sought ways to bring a version of expansion to Mississippi.

But the man trying to succeed Bryant said Monday he is adamantly opposed.

“I will remain opposed to any call for Obamacare expansion, no matter what other name or what other form you want to call it,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “I am opposed to Obamacare expansion in Mississippi because it is not in the best interest of Mississippi taxpayers.”

“Obamacare expansion” is Medicaid expansion, as the expansion of Medicaid was the chief way Obamacare sought to insure more Americans.

According to MS Today,  “A majority of Mississippi taxpayers, however, have warmed to the idea of Medicaid expansion, some form of which has been rolled out in all but 14 states since the Affordable Care Act’s implementation in 2013. Sixty percent of Mississippians now say they would support expanding Medicaid in Mississippi, according to a Millsaps/Chism Strategies poll released last week.”

Democrats have pushed for expansion in Mississippi in the past, as have hospitals that are struggling to treat patients without insurance. But some Republican leaders now appear to be open to some sort of expansion.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who is running for lieutenant governor, said he would “support a limited form of Medicaid expansion, tied to work requirements, that is similar to what states like Arkansas and Indiana have approved,” MS Today reported.

Republican Robert Foster, a representative running for governor, has said he supports a limited form of expansion.

Expansion supporters cite the approximately $1 billion in federal dollars that would come to the state, along with the help those dollars would provide to rural hospitals that are struggling to remain open. Since 2010, five hospitals in the state have closed.

Expanding Medicaid would benefit Mississippi, and it is encouraging that some Republican leaders are taking that into consideration. Those who continue to oppose expansion, like Reeves, would be wise to listen to their fellow state leaders who are at least open to the idea of some form of expansion. Or they could talk to voters, the majority of whom support some form of Medicaid expansion.