JACKSON, Miss.–The Medicaid debacle got even more complicated Wednesday when Atty. Gen. Jim Hood offered up a non-binding opinion that Gov. Bryant can’t legally operate Medicaid by executive order. The countdown is now ten days until coverage for around 700,000 Mississippians disappears.
The Division of Medicaid is a state agency, but operates with matching federal funds. The debate now is whether or not to expand coverage to more than 300,000 potential recipients who would now be eligible under ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act.
State Democrats have said they at least want to debate the subject. Republicans, like Bryant, have said it’s a non-issue because Mississippi cannot afford it. He believes the federal government would obligate the state to what would eventually be hundreds of millions of additional dollars to run the program.
At the end of the 2013 legislative session, a vote by mostly Democrats essentially de-authorized Medicaid for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Bryant said his office would operate the program under executive order, without the consent of the legislature. Hood now claims that is not legally possible.
A special session, which could cost Mississippi taxpayers more than $30,000 per day, could be called to put the Medicaid program back on track. That’s a move Gov. Bryant says he will make only if Democrats have a solution that won’t cost the state millions of dollars more.