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Mississippi Health Advocacy Program Pushing Case for Medicaid Expansion

JACKSON, Miss.–A new report released by the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program on Thursday is pushing for the expansion of Medicaid in Mississippi as legislators close in on the 2014 session.

The report, An Economic Analysis of the State and Local Impact of Medicaid Expansion in Mississippi, is the first study of its kind to look at the fiscal impact of Medicaid on the state and the communities in Mississippi, according to the organization.

“By refusing to expand Medicaid, our state leaders are costing our cities and counties thousands of new jobs and economic activity,” said Roy Mitchell, executive director of the MHAP.

The MHAP presentation focused mainly on the peripheral impact of Medicaid expansion in Mississippi and stated the tax money windfall generated from new jobs would more than cover costs.

It said $205 million in increased tax revenue would come in for 2014 and $209 million for the two years following, while the costs to the state would only be $29 million in administrative costs yearly during the same time span.

“From the perspective of Mississippi, the poorest state in the union, there is no reason not to expand Medicaid,” said state Sen. David Blount of Hinds County.

MHAP said the expansion would create 20,000 new jobs and produce $14 billion in new economic activity while providing health insurance to over 220,000 Mississippians.

Those opposed to expanding Medicaid in the state, such as Gov. Phil Bryant and other top Republican lawmakers, reasoning has been that the state cannot afford to do it and not letting the federal government leave Mississippi with the bill at its feet in a few years.

“The state of Mississippi is not going to be left holding the bag for the Medicaid expansion, ” said David Becker who is one of the co-authors of the study. “I think we need to make the decision based on the way the law is written and not on what could happen somewhere down the line.”

After 2020 the state would be responsible each year to fund ten percent of the costs moving forward, which the study shows an intermediate estimate to be around $167 million.  The highest estimate placed that number at $275 million and the lowest at $132 million.

The authors of the study said that under the most likely expansion enrollment scenario, Mississippi would invest $579 million from 2014 to 2020 but during the same time period the state would see over $1.4 billion in increased tax revenues as a result.  That number would be a net gain of $848 million in new tax revenue.

Medicaid expansion was definitely one of the most heated topics in 2013’s legislative session, and a special session had to be called to fund Medicaid after several votes were insufficient while both sides of the aisle jockeyed for the political upper hand.

In the 2014 session it seems it will be another hot button topic with both sides of the aisle digging their heels in deeper before Christmas has even come and gone.





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