Medicaid expansion expected to be a topic of budget meetings - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Medicaid expansion expected to be a topic of budget meetings

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As state agencies make final adjustments to budget proposals for the next fiscal year, one division of state government is already becoming a focal point for next week's joint legislative budget committee.

"Medicaid expansion is going to be a part of the discussion next week, next year and probably for the next five years," said Republican Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves.

Reeves is opposed to any type of Medicaid expansion in the state. While he believes some type of reform is needed, he says an expansion would have no long term benefit.

"There are things that have to be done to reform the healthcare system. The reality is that the adding, in our state as Obamacare would do, of 400,000 to 500,000 Mississippians on to the Medicaid rolls, we just don't believe is the right way to do it," said Reeves.

The federal government would pay for most of an expansion with about $10 billion spread out over the next five years. Reeves says the federal money would eventually run out and more folks on the rolls would end up costing the state in the long run.

"That makes no sense to me," said Democratic Representative and budget committee member George Flaggs.

Flaggs says not expanding Medicaid is a disservice to the state. As Reeves predicts another budget cut for just about every state agency, Flaggs says he's not ready to go that route just yet, especially with money available from the federal government.

"I just think that it's a no-brainer. To leave $10 billion on the table and see agencies continue to suffer and continue to under fund Medicaid is a disaster," said Flaggs of Vicksburg.

Reeves says the disaster is the current Affordable Care Act and an overreach of the federal government.

"The way in which this administration when about it, while it may have been well intentioned, it simply is not affordable for state and local governments," said Reeves.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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