/Reeves draws a hard line on ‘Obamacare’ despite GOP colleagues warming to Medicaid expansion

Reeves draws a hard line on ‘Obamacare’ despite GOP colleagues warming to Medicaid expansion

Reeves stated that he would not support any Medicaid expansion in Mississippi, despite reports from Gov. Phil Bryant and other high-ranking Mississippi Republicans have begun to look at ways to roll out a limited version of the health insurance program. Reeves stated that he will continue to oppose any calls for Obamacare expansion. “I oppose Obamacare expansion in Mississippi, because it isn’t in the best interests of Mississippi taxpayers,” Reeves stated. However, most Mississippi taxpayers have warmly embraced the idea of Medicaid expansion. This has been implemented in every state except 14 since 2013’s Affordable Care Act’s implementation. According to a Millsaps/Chism Strategies survey, sixty percent of Mississippians would support expanding Medicaid in Mississippi. Reeves did not respond to questions about his position on Monday and left the podium. Drew Snyder, the Medicaid Executive Director, admitted that his agency had been looking at Mississippi ways to expand Medicaid hours after Reeves spoke. “I’ll tell you that we have been looking into–are there any mechanisms. Snyder stated that hospitals have told him that the uninsured population is increasing and is causing health problems. He said it was fair to discuss what options are available to reduce the uninsured without entering into a big debate. He said that CMS had just issued some guidance regarding changing their policies using 1332s. This refers to federal waivers that states can use in order to modify their Medicaid policy. The responsibility for Medicaid expansion in Mississippi was almost exclusively held by Democrats until recently. Jim Hood, the Democratic Party’s leading candidate for governor in 2019, announced his candidacy for governor in October. He called for expansion. Thirteen of the 14 states still to expand Medicaid have Republican governors. The other, North Carolina, has a Republican-controlled legislature. However, the idea has been embraced by some high-ranking Republicans over the past few months. Mississippi Today reported that Bryant was quietly working with his staff in December to find ways to bring Medicaid expansion to the state. Bryant has been vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act. When asked about Snyder’s remarks on Monday and Reeves’s comments, a spokesperson for Bryant said that Bryant wasn’t planning to push the issue this year with the legislature. “Gov. “Gov. Seven other states have expanded Medicaid by executive order. This is known as a Section 1115 waiver. While most states did this through legislative action, it was possible for seven states to do the same. These waivers allow the federal government to approve pilot or experimental projects that it believes will promote Medicaid’s goals. Bryant, as governor, sits at the top of Mississippi’s Division of Medicaid. He could order that the agency apply for a waiver. He would probably have the support of some top Republicans in Mississippi if he did. According to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, he supports a limited Medicaid expansion that is tied to work requirements. This would be similar to the Medicaid expansions approved in states like Indiana and Arkansas. Robert Foster, R-Hernando is running as a conservative to Reeves’ right. He has publicly stated that he supports limited expansion. Foster announced his candidacy for governor last week. Foster stated that he supports waivers and is open to considering innovative ways to make health care more affordable for the working-class Mississippians. Rep. Tracy Arnold (R-Booneville), who asked Snyder about expanding in Monday’s hearing on appropriations, said that he was interested to see expansion targeted at “the working poor.” Arnold added, “There might even a cost savings for the state.” Many Republicans who support expansion claim that the federal dollars it would bring to the state, which is approximately $1 billion annually according to a 2012 report by the Institutions of Higher Learning, are hard to ignore. Four of Mississippi’s rural hospitals declared bankruptcy in the past five months. Five Mississippi hospitals have closed their doors since 2010. According to national studies, hospital closings are linked with states’ refusal to expand Medicaid. However, not all Republicans support the idea. Mississippi Today was informed by Sam Mims (R-McComb), House Public Health Chairman. He said he wasn’t involved in any discussions about Medicaid expansion. Mims stated that he was not for expanding Medicaid and had not heard of any discussion about expanding Medicaid.