State Lawmakers Get An Earful About Medicaid Cuts - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/23/04

State Lawmakers Get An Earful About Medicaid Cuts

In about a week Medicaid drug coverage will end for nearly 65-thousand Mississippians.

Several hundred of those people from South Mississippi attended a special forum Wednesday in Gulfport to voice their concerns and get some answers about switching to the federal Medicare program.

The forum was put on by several health advocacy groups who say these recent cuts are the worst in U.S. history.

Several state legislators were also in attendance to hear residents air their frustrations.

"My heart breaks for some of these people, like I told them in a letter, some of us will die, that's a plain fact," said one concerned Mississippi resident.

"It is not right, it's affecting not one person, it's affecting 65,000. that's a lot of people to have to suffer and die, and I will be one of the ones that will die without medication," another Medicaid recipient said.

"I receive an I.V. every eight weeks that costs 25-hundred dollars, 25-hundred dollars every eight weeks!! Now I've fallen between the cracks," yet another Mississippi resident said.

Hundreds of concerned South Mississippians attended the Medicaid recipient forum in Gulfport.

Leighton Ku traveled all the way from Washington D.C. to serve as co-host, along with other health care advocacy groups.

"I came to Mississippi because we are very concerned about the cuts that have been instituted in Mississippi or that are planned for July one. These are the deepest cutbacks that have ever occurred for senior citizens or people with permanent disabilities that have ever occurred in the nation at anytime," said Ku.

But, the Governor's office says much of the information given out at forum's like these is inaccurate.

He says only six percent of all people on Medicaid will even be affected by the cuts.

We called Governor Barbour's office and asked why he didn't attend the meeting in Gulfport.

"As we speak, the Governor is in Washington talking to federal officials about medicaid waivers. The waivers will give the 5-thousand people who these cuts will effect, continued coverage and medical services," said spokesman Pete Smith.

Cancer patient Patricia Crawford also attended the forum.

"You think we'll get these waivers by July 1st? I sure don't and I don't know what I'm going to do," said Crawford.

Crawford's husband, Bert says right now, Governor Barbour's words are a hollow promise.

"I don't believe him, he talks with forked tongue and I'll tell you one thing, he'll be a one time governor. I won't vote for him next time," said Crawford.

Governor Barbour has, in the past, said the cuts will save the state about 106 million dollars.

The governor says also says he regrets the misunderstanding and fear that many people are experiencing.

That's why he's set up a Medicaid hotline to answer any questions or concerns.

The toll free number is 1-800-421-2408.

By: Rebecca Powers

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