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White House: You Are Without Health Care Coverage Because State Did Not Expand

WASHINGTON, D.C.–If you don’t have adequate health care coverage, it could be because your state did not vote to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, said a new report from the White House this week. Mississippi, along with 23 other states that did not vote to accept the federal funds, is being blamed for the non-coverage of 5.7 million Americans.

The report says that nearly 300,000 Mississippians could be eligible for health care coverage through expansion, which the federal government has said it would fund, and which Mississippi Democrats have pushed in the state legislature for the past two years.

But, it may not be that simple, said Gov. Phil Bryant. He has talked extensively about what he believes would be the consequences of expansion, saying he believes the federal government would eventually turn the cost back over to the states, which could bankrupt Mississippi.

“They’re gonna get you on the hook for 300,000 additional, total 700,000 or one out of three Mississippians on Medicaid, and then they say we just can’t afford it, so you’re gonna have to start paying,” said Bryant on the Mike Huckabee Radio Show in 2013, the year the legislature came to a standstill over the matter and delayed funding Medicaid while both sides fought it out.

Bryant said the feds would likely put Mississippi on the hook for about a billion dollars per year after that, which is roughly one sixth of the state’s total budget.

The federal government has promised to pick up the full tab through 2017, and no less than 90 percent after that.

If Mississippi did expand Medicaid, people who are at 138 percent of the federal poverty level would qualify for health coverage, or $16,105 for a single adult and $27,000 for a family of three, said the White House report.

Unlike other Republican governors, who have said they would eventually consider expansion, Bryant has remained steadfastly against it and it did not get much attention in the 2014 legislative session.

Mississippi’s legislature is controlled by Republicans in both chambers.

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