Anyone who studies human behavior knows it’s not always about what it’s about. That could be said for the current impasse in the Mississippi Legislature over Medicaid.
The state faces a $90 million shortfall in the state-federal health care program for the poor. Lawmakers were unable to come up with a solution in the regular session, which ended in April.
Gov. Haley Barbour called a special session to deal with a laundry list of topics, and eventually added Medicaid. The Senate has passed the solution he favors – a $167.25 per day, per bed tax on hospitals. It failed in the House, as have efforts to fund the shortfall with a cigarette tax increase by itself or in combination with a liquor tax or a lower hospital tax.
The state Hospital Association is the reluctant crafter and supporter of the bed tax. It’s better than nothing, they contend, given the huge sums at stake – $3 from the federal government for every $1 the state puts up. But the association and most hospital administrators would prefer the cigarette tax as a means of connecting the leading health risk factor with health care costs.