Meridian Star

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June 29, 2013

Miss. lawmakers keep Medicaid alive and funded


JACKSON, Miss. —

Then, just as quickly, the Senate ended its part of the special session. That rapid series of events forced the House to accept the Senate's Medicaid plan to keep the program from going out of business at midnight Sunday into Monday.

Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, told the House that the Senate pulled "a political stunt" to make an end run around the governor and the House. "I think we've been snookered," Brown said.

House Democratic leader Bobby Moak, of Bogue Chitto, also complained: "I sort of feel like this chamber has been bamboozled. I understand that because I've been a part of bamboozling the other chamber a lot."

Bryant, however, said Reeves had not made an end-run around him or House Speaker Philip Gunn.

"That's just ridiculous," Bryant told reporters. "We all worked together on this stuff."

House Bill 1 includes a repealer on parts of the Medicaid law — a provision that gives lawmakers leverage as they review how the agency is operating. That means lawmakers could have big debates about Medicaid in 2014.

Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, said that over seven years, Mississippi could spend $455 million for Medicaid expansion and receive $8.6 billion from the federal government.

"Folks, this is a good investment," Blount said. "This is a good deal for the state of Mississippi."

Several Republicans said they were skeptical that the federal government would follow through with promises of funding. Senate President Pro Tempore Terry Brown, R-Columbus, said the 2010 federal law, known as the Affordable Care Act, is complicated and could be a disaster for states that opt to expand Medicaid.

"I don't want Mississippi to be a part of that train wreck," Brown said Friday. "Let's look at it after the train wreck happens."

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