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NOXUBEE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- Medicaid Expansion. It’s one of the most contentious topics in this year’s legislative session. Democrats want the Republican controlled house and senate to allow Mississippians more access to healthcare. But will it be to costly to hospitals and the State?

Some lawmakers who support medicaid expansion argue that thanks to Healthcare reform, money and funding won’t be much of an issue. But hospitals may bear much of the load regardless of what happens. It’s a big issue for hospitals and they have joined a group of other institutions to wade in at the legislature.

Democratic State Representative Tyrone Ellis is a strong advocate for medicaid expansion.

“We’re the poorest state in the nation and we have the lowest ranking in health care. We need to expand it and all experts agree. How does one justify saying we shouldn’t expand Medicaid. The federal government is putting $10 billion into this process so if the feds are paying $10 billion, you’re not paying. It’s lowering your cost,” says Representative Ellis.

Republicans in the house and senate argue that expanding medicaid will eventually cost Mississippians in the long run, but Ellis says we need to change the healthcare system now to help the sick.

“If you don’t expect to be doing any better than what you’re doing now in 10 or 20 years, my God! You should have some expectations of doing better in the 10 or 20 years of Medicaid expansion. And if we’re not doing better, that means we can continue to expect to be on the bottom for the rest of our lives,” says Representative Ellis.

As lawmakers continue to debate the cost and benefits of Medicaid expansion, providers and Medicaid beneficiaries alike are anxious about the outcomes. Noxubee General Hospital administrator, Danny McKay, deals with medicaid patients on a daily basis.

“The Medicaid system and the whole health care system in general, as long as I’ve been in it and that’s for nearly 30 years, is having to do more with less,” says McKay.

He believes there are a few downsides to the system.

“Instead of getting paid per day, we’re paid for the entire stay so the incentive is to get them well and get them home as soon as possible,” says McKay.

But, McKay also says for those that need it the most, it’s a good thing.

“It’d be advantageous for the patients to have better access to healthcare through Medicaid. It’s a difficult situation but you can definitely see both sides of the equation.”

The federal law allows states to have the option to expand Medicaid to people at 133 percent of the poverty level. That’s about 32 thousand a year for a family of four.

Governor Phil Bryant opposes Medicaid expansion. He and other opponents say many businesses and individuals will get out of their current private insurance and turn to Medicaid. That will eventually overload the taxpayer funded program.

Only time will tell when the topic comes up within the 90 day session.


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