State Rep. compares Medicaid expansion to Civil Rights Movement

Published: Jan. 11, 2014 at 10:28 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2014 at 10:58 AM CST
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BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - A South Mississippi lawmaker is comparing Governor Phil Bryant's refusal to accept billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid to Governor Ross Barnett standing in a doorway at Ole Miss to block James Meredith. Representative David Baria was one of the speakers at the Dr. Martin Luther King Legislative Breakfast where the topic of discussion was healthcare.

For people who wanted learn more about the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare it was their chance to get information.

"Having the ability to ask questions," said Wendall Wells, a participant. "I think there is a lot of uncertainty out there. A lot of people have questions."

This year the Committee for a Coast-wide Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Birthday Celebration added la legislative breakfast to the list of events leading up to King holiday. The discussion took place in Bay St. Louis with healthcare as the focus.

Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes of Gulfport said, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was someone who always looked out after the poor, the elderly, the sick so we felt that very important to incorporate healthcare since that's a big part of our legislative agenda this coming year. State Representative David Baria talked about challenges that Dr. King faced during the Civil Rights Era.

"Times have changed in Mississippi yet there are some very real similarities to what was going on in the 60s,"said Rep. David Baria of Bay St. Louis.

By looking at what happened in Mississippi in 60s, Baria said he believes he knows why the current governor and Republicans in the state legislature refuse to expand Medicaid for 300,000 Mississippians.

"Picture in your mind of Governor Ross Barnett standing in the door way at Ole Miss. We're not going to admit James Meredith," said Baria. "That is the position our government was taking on Washington in the 60s. I see this as something very similar because there is no real reason that we wouldn't expand Medicaid and accept $15 billion and create 10,000 new jobs other than we don't like Obama in the state capital."

Democratic lawmakers said the party is working on a healthcare proposal they plan to present to  Governor Bryant.

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