Lawmakers hopeful for Medicaid compromise - - The News for South Mississippi

Lawmakers hopeful for Medicaid compromise

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The house and senate chambers may be empty now, but lawmakers will have to make a trip back to the capitol for some unfinished business, approving a budget for the Medicaid program.

That was a large part of the conversation Monday afternoon between Democratic Senator David Blount and Republican Representative Andy Gipson.

"I think we need to admit that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and we need to follow the law," said Blount.

At issue is whether the state should expand the program under the Affordable Care Act. For Mississippi it means a cumulative budget cost of $1.1 billion dollars through the year 2025. Blount says if the state spends that money, the federal government will send the state $12.1 billion. That, he says, is an investment.

"In my mind, that's a good deal and we ought to take it," said Blount.

Gipson isn't sold on that deal and says there's just too many unanswered questions.

"We just don't know enough right now to be able to think and be able to discuss intelligently what the effect of all this is going to be," said Gipson.

With political parties standing firm in their stances, lawmakers are hoping there will soon be some common ground.

"It's been largely a partisan issue but I don't think it has to be a partisan issue. To me it's a dollars and cents issue and it's a public health issue," said Blount.

For Gipson, it's a different issue.

"It's an issue of whether we can afford this. We're having struggled to fund the program we already have," said Gipson.

While they disagree on an expansion, both agree something will have to be done. Blount says it'll come down to having options on the table. Blount says lawmakers can extend the current program through October to allow for more time and information or allow for a trigger clause in legislation to ease republican concerns over disproportionate share payments.

"I hope that when we come back in special session an idea would have been reached and everybody will know what the game plan is and we can all come in and get it done in one day," said Blount.

When a special session happens is in hands of the governor. Lawmakers believe it will be sometime in June.

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