/Is history repeating itself on Medicaid expansion in Mississippi

Is history repeating itself on Medicaid expansion in Mississippi

1969 saw the fall of the state’s political leadership, which was led by then-Gov. John Bell Williams reversed course and decided to join the federal Medicaid program. This reversal was not easy. This required a special session, which amazingly ran from July 22nd 1969 to October 10th 1969. It was led by Williams, who was previously a vocal and staunch opponent of Medicaid. Could 1969 be the same? The state is now resisting national trends and refusing to accept the Medicaid expansion program that would have provided health care for 300,000 mostly working Mississippians. The first signs of a shift in the position of many state legislators within the majority Republican Party are beginning to show. Robert Foster, a conservative Republican candidate for governor in DeSoto County and Delbert Hosemann, the popular Secretary of State, both suggested that they may consider expanding Medicaid. Larrison Campbell, Mississippi Today’s excellent reporter, has shown that the Republican governor. Phil Bryant, who is the most vocal opponent to Medicaid expansion, may be exploring the possibility. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often called Obamacare) includes Medicaid expansion. This is a common dislike among Republican politicians, particularly Mississippi Republican politicians. Medicaid expansion allows states to provide health care coverage for those who earn up to $16,753 per person, while the federal government pays the majority of the cost. Important to know that Medicaid expansion does not apply to adults unless they are pregnant, disabled, or caring for someone in very rare circumstances. Alton Cobb was the state’s chief health officer from 1973 to 2003. He also served as the executive director of Mississippi’s first Medicaid Commission. This allowed him to witness the transformation of Wiliams. Cobb was working in the state Health Department when David Bowen recruited him to join the Williams administration’s Public Health Advisory Board. The Board was mandated to examine federal funds for health care. Cobb said that he didn’t vote in Williams’ favor when he was offered the job. Cobb stated that he believed he knew this. However, he believes he recognized the potential of Medicaid and the advisory board as a means to improve health care in Mississippi. He said, “I wanted to participate in that.” The hearings were held across the state and listened to various health care professionals. Clarksdale: “Someone asked when Gov. Williams refers to David Bowen as a socialist and said that he started hiring socialists. Cobb stated that they didn’t know who I was. Williams was present at the meetings but he rarely spoke. He was primarily interested in listening. Cobb stated that he recalled Williams telling his staff at the end of the process that he would call a special session to discuss the matter of enrolling in the Medicaid program. Williams, a U.S. House Member prior to his election as governor, had voted against legislation creating the Medicaid program. He also campaigned to be governor by railing against the excesses and corruption of the federal government. On the first day, Williams told the Legislature in joint session that his philosophical reasons for opposing the program as a member the United States Congress were not relevant or applicable to the current issue. It is a fact. It is available to our State and now it devolves wholly into the question of whether your wisdom should determine our participation will have the best interests for our state and people.” He continued to make a case for Medicaid, much in the same way that he made for Medicaid expansion. He stated that the program would provide healthcare for a small portion of the population and help to expand the state’s economy. Cobb stated that he believes Williams was successful in getting the controversial program through the Legislature. Cobb also said that members saw him as “one of them”. Cobb added that he doubts Medicaid expansion this year but believes it will happen in Mississippi. Cobb doesn’t believe that state politicians can ignore a program in which the federal government pays 90 percent of the health care costs. Cobb may be right. Mississippi might move faster than it did in 1969. Mississippi was the last state to sign up for Medicaid in 1969.
Currently, 14 states are yet to sign up for Medicaid expansion.