Medicaid debate expected to go into special session - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Medicaid debate expected to go into special session

A true hot button debate continues to brew as state legislators are choosing to err on the side of caution when it comes to Medicaid expansion.

State Representative Larry Byrd says, "The issue of Medicaid reauthorization may not even be taken up in the regular session"

Byrd says there are too many questions on how accepting federal money to expand the program will affect Mississippi. "There is a lot of speculation now about dish, what part of dish is going to go away and what may or may not happen. We'd like to have as much certainty as we can before we reauthorize the program."

The dish or disproportionate share which are federal funds paid to hospitals to offset the cost of treating patients without health insurance are scheduled to go away. If the state doesn't take the federal money for Medicaid it could leave out local hospitals on the hook for millions of dollars.

Byrd says, "Forrest General being a large employer of folks around here and they get reimbursed for Medicaid. So, depending on what part of Medicaid goes away it could affect our local hospital."

The reauthorization of Medicaid must be done by June 30th, and Byrd says the best play for the state is to wait it out. "The financial reality for us is that although the feds are going to help us get started in this, that we don't know when they might jerk the rug out from under us. We don't know in the long term what it's going to cost us to expand Medicaid because we have to pay dollars into the system to get dollars back. So, that's a big if. That's a big question, that's a big uncertainty and we just don't have an answer for it right now."

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