Barbour Talks About Medicaid Battle, Future Cuts - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/16/05

Barbour Talks About Medicaid Battle, Future Cuts

The Medicaid crisis is over. For now at least.

On Monday, Governor Haley Barbour signed two bills that will cover Medicaid's budget shortfall for the rest of this fiscal year which ends June 30th.

That means the program will be able to pay doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and other providers with no further delay.

For months the House and Senate couldn't come to an agreement on how to save Medicaid from going broke.

"I don't know why the house does some of the things that they do, but they don't have to explain themselves to me, at the end of the day, the House, the Senate and the Governor have to all agree," Governor Haley Barbour said.

It took an unprecedented weekend special session called by the Governor to make them agree.

House speaker Billy McCoy called Barbour a dictator.

"I'm going to continue to be for, what I'm for. I'm going to continue to do what I said I was going to do when I ran for office. When people elected me, they elected me because I said I would do things and I'm going to do what I said."

Barbour says tackling the Medicaid dilemma was tough and it made him unpopular with some. But, he says our state is in seriously bad financial shape and he'll continue to cut the deficit.

"We have to get control of spending because we've gotten in the worst financial shape in the history of the state. Because when revenue went up 34 percent over a period of years, in that same year, spending went up 50 percent."

As for Medicaid spending, at least until June 30th of this year, everyone will be covered.

"I'm very pleased with the outcome because we've solved the problem. The solution was the only solution that was available to us. That was the only place where there was money to do this, the health care trust fund. And after all, we're spending it on health care."

One of the bills Barbour signed will take $240 million from the state's health care trust fund. The other bill authorizes Medicaid to spend the money. The trust fund was created by payments from the state's tobacco lawsuit settlement.

by Rebecca Powers

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