Minority leaders and former Ole Miss Chancellor call on state leaders to expand Medicaid

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 9:00 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The political back and forth on the issue of Medicaid expansion was in full force at the State Capitol Thursday.

House and Senate minority leaders were joined by fellow Democrats to say they won’t back down on the issue. And a former leader is revealing a personal conversation he had with the Governor that’s now kicking up dust.

As part of Governor Tate Reeves’ State of the State address, he made this statement.

“Don’t simply cave under the pressure of Democrats and their allies in the media who are pushing for the expansion of Obamacare,” noted Reeves.

“I think like most Mississippians, I’m highly frustrated with our Governor now,” commented Dr. Dan Jones, former Ole Miss Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of UMMC.

That frustration is compounded for former Ole Miss chancellor and UMMC head Dr. Dan Jones based on a conversation he says he had while Chancellor with then-Lt. Governor Reeves where he was discussing the benefits of Medicaid expansion.

“After a few moments of the conversation, he put his hands up and said, Chancellor, I recognize that it would be good for Mississippians that would be good for our economy, good for health care if we expanded Medicaid,” shared Jones from the podium during a press conference with legislators. “I had a big smile on my face. And I said, Governor, I’m so glad to hear that. I’m glad to hear you’re going to support Medicaid expansion. His response? Oh, no, I’m not going to support it. Because it’s not in my personal political interest. "

Governor Reeves fired back on Twitter less than two hours later, saying it’s “obviously a lie” and he never would have said that.

Jones though says part of the reasoning for sharing now is that he’s no longer a state employee and can more freely share.

“The conversation happened. It’s real. The reason I share it today is because of the crisis we’re in now.”

In the same Twitter thread, Reeves says it would be easier for him “politically to roll over and let the liberals have this one”. He added that it’s not the right thing to do.

But the House and Senate Minority Leaders are hoping it’s an issue that outside pressure will move the needle on, in a similar way as the state flag.

“We know that if we continue to press if the issue is made clear enough and critical enough, we know our colleagues will start to respond,” noted Rep. Robert Johnson, House Minority Leader. “But that pressure didn’t come just from the inside as Derrick [Simmons] said, it came from the people outside...our voters. And so we would urge people to continue to call and tell them you need a hospital.”

Democrats say they’ll file amendments to other bills to try and get Medicaid expansion through this session.

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