Gunn says Medicaid expansion in Mississippi is not likely to happen.
Speaker of the House Philip Gunn interviewed with The Gallo Show on SuperTalk Radio Thursday morning and discussed the possibility of Medicaid expansion.
Since a potential initiative was filed to expand Medicaid, lawmakers and legislators have again begun commenting on whether or not an expansion would be good for Mississippi.
However, from Speaker Gunn’s perspective, expansion is still a ‘no’ in the House.
“We have been very clear on our side that we are just not for that,” said Gunn. “We forget that the people who pay for that are the tax payers and everywhere I go I get that reminder.”
Gunn said the more the state expands, the more of a tax burden that falls on Mississippi residents. He said right now Medicaid benefits are provided to those who are the most in need in the state, individuals who are completely unable to provide.
He said the push is to expand to the next tier of individuals who are working. Expansion, in his opinion, is just not a conservative position.
“When we expand we are adding to the rolls an enormous amount of people and the concern has always been that we can’t afford that,” said Gunn. “All it takes is the federal government deciding they’re not going to pay for it anymore and then it falls on the backs of the Mississippi taxpayer.”
The Speaker said when he refers to expansion he’s talking about anything that will fall on the backs of the taxpayer. Gunn said he has maintained that more reliance on government is not the best outcome.
“I’ve always maintained, to the extent that we can, decreased government dependency. That should be the goal,” said Gunn. “Expansion in my view is going in the opposite direction.”
Mississippi’s current budget is 50% funded by the Federal government every year.
The same sentiments to not expand are shared by Governor Tate Reeves.
“As I’ve said before, I’m opposed to Obamacare and Medicaid expansion in Mississippi,” said Reeves.
Currently, the federal government has increased their match for Medicaid to 95%. Those in favor of the expansion say it would bring additional funding to the state to pay for itself at that rate.
However, as Gunn mentioned, conservatives are concerned about the possibility of that federal match dissipating. Some states that have expanded have over extended their long term budgets, like New York. The current administration has also moved to limit the ability of states to have work requirements for Medicaid recipients in other states.
The initiative offered in 2021 for the 2022 ballot was put on hold after the Mississippi Supreme Courts ruling regarding Initiative 65 and the while initiative process. If expansion were put into practice, it would have to come from the Legislature.