Group says state should expand Medicaid - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Group says state should expand Medicaid

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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

Part of the Affordable Care Act encourages states to expand Medicaid to more residents. Opponents in Mississippi insist it will cost too much. Supporters say the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost for the first few years and expansion will create jobs.

A health advocacy group is on a statewide tour to make its case. It's called Mississippi's Road to Reform. The Mississippi Health Advocacy Program says the state should take advantage of increased funding coming from the federal government.

"They really need to look at dollar for dollar what Mississippi is getting," said Dr. Persharon Dixon with Coastal Family Health Center. "Right now, we get a good amount from the federal government. This is 100 percent over a few years. By the time we get to the point where we support it then we'll have revenue coming in."

Many state leaders, including Governor Bryant, say the program will end up costing Mississippi too much money in the long run.

Dr. Corey Wiggins points out a study from the Institutes of Higher Learning that says expanding Medicaid will, among other things, create jobs.

"When you look at it, we're talking about 9,000 jobs. Not just doctors and nurses. You have more people in health care like receptionists, people doing accounting and billing and people doing laboratory work."

Expanding Medicaid will add about 330,000 people to the states program. Opponents say that while the federal government picks up the tab for the first few years, the state will be responsible to pay costs after that. Dr Wiggins says it's worth it.

"You can look at it as a cost or an investment. We look at it as an investment in families and job creation. All those things we look for here in our state."

Expanding Medicaid is expected to be a subject of hot debate during the upcoming legislative session.

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