By Sen. David Blount
Jackson Advocate Guest Writer
The most important long-term issue facing the state is the urgent need to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Mississippi now is one of ten states (seven in the South) that have refused expansion. On the same day this year that Mississippi Senate Democrats offered a floor amendment to expand Medicaid, North Carolina became the latest state to extend coverage. The Republican majority North Carolina Senate passed the bill 44-2.
Our hospitals are in crisis. Expanding Medicaid closes the coverage gap and provides health insurance to about 250,000 Mississippians who are working in jobs without insurance. The federal government pays $9 for every $1 the state spends. This money ensures access to care for patients and that hospitals and health care providers can stay in business.
Instead of recognizing this opportunity, Republican leaders opted to send hospitals $100 million this year with a one-time payment. So, instead of spending $100 million to expand Medicaid (to get $1 billion and provide coverage to 250,000 people), the state is spending $100 million and getting no extra federal dollars at all. Not one additional person receives health insurance.
The governor and House leaders had even opposed extending health coverage to new mothers on Medicaid (about two-thirds of all births in the state). A married mother with a newborn child loses Medicaid coverage after 60 days if she and her husband have an annual income above about $5,760.
Last year, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill extending this coverage but it died without a vote in the House of Representatives. Mississippi was the last state in the nation to extend these benefits from 60 days to one year. This year, the House and the governor finally agreed to support it. These mothers now have coverage for 12 months. A victory!
As a member of the Senate Public Health and Medicaid committees, I am dedicated to expanding access to health care and supporting our hospitals and health care providers.
I am running for re-election this year and would be grateful for your support in the August 8th Democratic Primary. My seniority, chairmanship, and leadership on important committees give me an opportunity to do more for our district.
Thank you again for the opportunity to work for Hinds County in the State Senate. I am happy to meet with groups, neighborhoods, or churches in Senate District 29 to listen and discuss issues that are important to you. You can contact me by email (email@example.com) or by calling my office at the Capitol (601-359-2220). I am also on Facebook and Twitter (@sendavidblount).