by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – thegazebogazette@gmail.com or hdawkins@supertalk.fm

Unless there is a sincere change of heart from Governor Tate Reeves, Sine Die will be called to end the 2024 Mississippi Legislative Session and there is an essential guarantee that the executive branch (the governor) will not call a special session to discuss Medicaid Expansion.  Even though this issue has become sincere throughout the Magnolia state because of the lack of hospital revenue and how federal funds could benefit the economy, the Mississippi State Legislature balked at creating a solution due to several different feelings from the leadership. 
As you may know, Medicaid is a government health insurance program that covers people with very low incomes. Former President Barack Obama signed a healthcare law in 2010 that allows states to expand Medicaid coverage, generally to people who work in jobs that pay lower wages and won’t provide private health insurance. 
The issues are listed below:
  • The Struggle for Bipartisan Support
Let’s be honest, even though the Democratic minority in the Legislature has pushed this legislation for years, there was no guaranteed support for a bill that would either include work requirements, a referendum, or a percentage of the federal poverty level income to receive Medicaid coverage.  As one of the 10 states in America to not have expanded Medicaid under health care law, the minority party claimed it would be hard to support a bill that was “Medicaid Expansion in name only.”
  • The Work Requirement Suggestion
Due to the fact of being denied federal funds (if this passed) would already put a halt in this procedure.  Georgia is the only state in the nation that adopted a work requirement with the ability to receive Medicaid coverage, which the federal government denied providing funds.  Although Georgia has sued the federal government, Mississippi does not have the time or funds to file a lawsuit against the executive branch no matter who is in office.  
The Senate proposal required an individual to work at least 100 hours per month and adopted its version, which would extend eligibility to people earning up to 100% of the federal poverty level, just over $15,000 for one person.  Unfortunately, the House plan was completely different, where it was voted by a wide bipartisan margin in late February to expand Medicaid coverage to about 200,000 people who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or $20,120 annually for one person.   Ultimately, neither side agreed during the conference report.
  • The Referendum of the People

Now, while this option may have seemed like a decent suggestion from Speaker Jason White to decide the fate of this issue with the people’s thoughts, this measure was shot down from the Mississippi Senate.  Not many referendums have been successful in accurately depicting people’s opinions, for example the switching of the Mississippi State Flag proposal in 2001 and Initiative 42 for full public school funding in Mississippi where both failed.

  • The Governor’s Guaranteed Veto
Even with the Republican party’s supermajority in the legislature, Governor Tate Reeves has labeled any Medicaid Expansion legislature as “Obamacare” and claimed this would be an absolute veto.  Despite the supermajority control by both branches, there would need to be at least 2/3 override vote from both chambers and by voting against a governor that has nothing to lose due to his last term, nothing is quite as simple as it may seem.  There is no doubt Reeves will adequately be against any expansion of Medicaid coverage and looks to build on his conservative quality for future political aspirations.  Since he is the only individual that could call a special session in Mississippi, the healthcare issue is dead.
  
Regardless of how both chambers feel about their fight for the people of Mississippi, there will be another 7 months before this matter comes up again.  Therefore, each legislator should acknowledge the poor amount of healthcare service the state is providing due to the lack of resources and understand why the state’s economy and population are diminishing.