Heather Black

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Video: Medicaid Expansion Debate Continues

GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI)-Mississippi Lawmakers are still debating whether expanding Medicaid would benefit more Mississippians or raise costs for the state. We  talk to some local working people about the issue.

The Mississippi Legislature is currently debating whether to expand Medicaid to cover those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That comes out to about 34-thousand dollars a year for a family of 4.

In the current economy, small business owners are finding it harder to afford health insurance for their employees. Karen Graham is the Director for the Pre-School and Child Day Care at First Baptist Church in Starkville. Her facility is one of the few local daycares to offer employee health insurance.

“We do offer that. We feel fortunate that we can offer our full time employees medical insurance. It’s important for them to stay healthy we are in a childcare environment so there health is important so providing health insurance helps them to be able to get the medical attention that they need and help them stay healthy,” says Karen Graham.

Sara McKinney’s family, relies on the coverage she gets through work.

“Having two small children and a husband so with my family wise its very helpful to have health insurance with my job,” says Sara McKinney.

A mother of one, Cassidy Prescott, is a hair dresser at Salon Seven in Columbus. She remembers her trip to the emergency room after a seizure. It’s something she’ll be paying for, for quite a while.

“I went to the hospital and the bill was 4 thousand dollars and the ladies in the office called me and asked me how much money I made a month just to see if I could be eligable for medicaid and they denied me. I told them less than 4 hundred dollars a month, but I still made too much,” says Cassidy Prescott.

Angela Price says the only way she could get covered was by taking on an extra job.

“I have a second job at Lowes just for the Insurance purposes because being self employed and renting a booth at a salon we’re not able, the salon is not able to provide that for us,” says Angela Price.

If  law makers decide to expand medicaid it could help more than 4 hundred-thousand Mississippians who do not have health insurance, but Angela knows the money will have to come from somewhere.

“I think it will benefit especially the middle class, but in the same sense that money has to come from somewhere. I feel like a lot of the middle class is actually going to get taxed even more just to cover the free medicare and free Medicaid,” says Price.

Most Republican leaders like Governor Phil Bryant and Speaker Philip Gunn oppose the expansion.