JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Medicaid expansion for Mississippi is back in the news. Earlier this week, a non-profit organization announced plans to start the process to bypass the legislature and the governor and take the issue directly to the voters in the form of a referendum.
At first, Medicaid Expansion would seem to be something that liberals are automatically for, and conservatives are automatically against. But this isn’t a political issue; this is a people issue.
On the economic side, the state is leaving a billion federal health dollars on the table every year, because we can’t afford to pay the co-pay. Mississippi couldn’t come up with an extra $100 million on a dare.
Except, not expanding Medicaid is costing us that much or more already, in lost wages and tax base for rural hospitals that have had to shut down because they can’t afford to absorb free emergency care for people who couldn’t pay.
On the other hand in higher health care costs, we have to pay to hospitals who are open and having to recoup the expense of free care from patients who do pay. The hospitals can’t operate at a loss, or we’d all lose. But mostly, it’s costing us in the health of Mississippians who can’t go to the doctor because they make too much for regular Medicaid but too little to afford health insurance.
We’re the poorest state and the least healthy state in the union already. It’s time we acknowledged that fact and take on the responsibility that goes along with the condition we are in.
But as far as the cost, the Mississippi Hospital Association, which is the organization who has started the process to put this issue on the ballot, has already come up with a plan to pay 10 percent responsibility, with a fee on member hospitals combined with an affordable monthly premium for people enrolled in the plan.
The association could save money helping pay the matching fee rather than losing money having to absorb non-paying patients. Plus, having more people on health plans may help reopen some of the closed hospitals in areas desperately needing local health care.
Can’t afford it? I don’t see how we can afford not to adopt expanded Medicaid in Mississippi.