With the 2023 Mississippi Legislative Session slated to begin on January 3, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann spoke Wednesday regarding what he wants to see lawmakers accomplish this next calendar year.
According to Lt. Governor Hosemann, the state collected an excess of $270 million in taxes in 2022. He would like to see a rebate system implemented for Mississippi taxpayers to be reimbursed for their contributions.
“That excess is $270 million,” Hosemann said. “We will propose to provide that money back to the taxpayers who sent it here.”
Hosemann’s idea of allocation would be on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to $500. So, for every dollar one has paid in taxes, that individual will be matched at any amount not exceeding $500.
“My proposal would be that we start with the first dollar. If you pay a dollar, you get a dollar back,” Hosemann continued. “At some point in time, which I think is around $500 or so, that would be the maximum left after we started from the bottom giving everybody their dollars back.”
Modified calendar for public schools
Hosemann has been adamant that a modified calendar for public schools is the best way to move forward with educating Mississippi’s children. Under the current system, students are taught from August to May with a two-month summer break. Hosemann would like to see a calendar where students are given a two or three-week break after each nine-week period.
“We need to look at this with the view that we’re not always going to do things like we used to. What we’re going to do is prepare our children for the future, and this is the way to do this,” the Lt. Governor added. “You will see us give grants to schools that make this step.”
Though the modified calendar would be a drastic change, Hosemann says upwards of 85 percent of parents he’s encountered fully support it. There would also be financial incentives for school districts that make the switch to the modified calendar.
Extending postpartum Medicaid coverage
Despite Senate Bill 2033 failing be approved by the Mississippi House of Representatives during the 2022 session, Hosemann will continue to push for postpartum Medicaid coverage period for women to be increased from 60 days to 12 months.
With with workforce participation rate for single mothers in Mississippi being 75 percent, 20 percent higher than the state average, Hosemann deems it necessary for mothers to have extended access to healthcare to provide for their medical needs.
“These are working women. These are not women who don’t have a job,” he said. “They’re out here doing a lot of work just like you are, and they’re find themselves without healthcare coverage.”
Hosemann referred to a Texas study that showed extending postpartum coverage yielded positive results. The study shows that extending coverage not only grants women more access to healthcare, but it also has shown to benefit a recipient’s mental health.
Greenwood Leflore Hospital (GLH) has been front and center of discussions regarding the future of rural hospitals in the state. According to Hosemann, GLH is expected to lose close to $20 million this year.
With the population of the Mississippi Delta and other rural areas of the state declining, Hosemann argues that hospitals in these parts of the state may have to adjust to prioritize emergency services and for elective ones to be performed in bigger systems.
Though Hosemann will explore options to help these hospitals receive funding, he does not see Medicaid expansion as the solution.
“Medicaid expansion, I don’t think that’s the answer. Even if you had expansion, that hospital wouldn’t make it. The end result here is going to have to be a more structured look at the numbers. Just pouring money in here, we’d still be short,” Hosemann said. “They [GLH] delivered about $600 million in uncompensated care. An expansion from 84 percent to 90 percent reimbursement is not going to cover it.”