Legislators Weigh in on Medicaid Expansion - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Legislators Weigh in on Medicaid Expansion

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HATTIESBURG, MS -

  We searched the governor's website and found an article "Expanding Medicaid Will Cost Mississippians." In the article Bryant says that this year, Mississippi will spend between $800 and $900 million on Medicaid; that's four times the state general fund budget for the Mississippi National Guard.

Bryant claims that democrats are choosing to suspend the current Medicaid program in order to force a decision on Obamacare expansion.

We caught up with state lawmakers at Pearl River Community College's legislative breakfast to hear what they have to say about the program.

"The big issue right now in the big debate is on the Affordable Health Care Act called Obamacare," says State Senator Joey Fillingane (R-MS 41).

 "I think we need to have a responsible conversation about not only the cost of doing the program but the cost of not doing the program," says Representative Toby Barker (R - 102).

State senators and representatives met at the Pearl River community college Forrest county campus today to talk with students about their main concerns with legislation.

Senator Joey Fillingane says their main concerns health care, education and the economy.

"The state currently spends on our Medicaid match about 1 billion dollars with a "B" out of a 6 billion dollar budget," says Fillingane.

Currently legislators are working on a proposed budget for fiscal year 2014. Their deadline is April first.

Senator john Polk (R-MS 44) says it's difficult to make a decision on Medicaid because the U.S. Congress hasn't explained the affordable health care act. "They're still writing the rules on that. They have not finished telling us what exactly is going to happen when they finish."

Without knowing all the details the governor insists that the state can't afford the expansion.

"We also need to talk about, can we afford it long-term? Are there ways we can have our providers help pay for that burden. What happens to those populations that may come into the Medicaid system," says Barker.

"I think what we've really got to look at is not what happens right now, but what's the future of Mississippi in 10 years from now if we do expand Medicaid or if we don't expand Medicaid," says Polk.

"I think there's a broad consensus that there will be costs no matter what decision the legislature and governor make," says Barker.

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