Bryant says he will not compromise on Medicaid expansion - - The News for South Mississippi

Bryant says he will not compromise on Medicaid expansion

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Just after Democratic lawmakers put a deal on the table, Republican Governor Phil Bryant says it's not going to happen.

"I would say that they're looking at the wrong capitol. They need to be looking at the capitol in Washington. This is a federal law," said Bryant.

That deal was a democratic compromise to GOP leadership in expanding the state's Medicaid program. With concerns over reimbursement payments from the federal government to local hospitals, democrats were asking for legislation to expand Medicaid only if those payments would be reduced or eliminated under a non-expansion.

"The bottom line is that it takes care of those people in the state of Mississippi who we need to take care of, working, voting people every day," said Rep. Robert Johnson, a Democrat from Natchez.

Bryant says the state can't afford an expansion even though the he says the federal government is promising to pay for it.

"I'm not prepared to trust the Obama administration at this time and I'm not going to pass that bill," said Bryant.

Under the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare," states aren't mandated to expanded Medicaid, but rather given the option. That Bryant says, means the federal government can't withhold hospital reimbursement payments for any state not expanding.

"You can't punish us for not expanding Medicaid and if you do we have a legal standing and we're exploring that possibility," said Bryant.

Bryant says if the White House administration is really worried about healthcare, reimbursement payments would not be cut or even used as leverage.

"For Democrats to hold a current Medicaid recipient hostage is just something that should not be done and shame on them for doing that," said Bryant.

Meanwhile, Democrats say all they want is for the matter to at least be brought to the house and senate floors for debate.

"Just get some legislation before us and let's talk about that issue," said Rep. Bobby Moak, a Democrat from Bogue Chitto.

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