The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Editorial, 6/25/8

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour says he has no choice but to cut the state’s health care services because the House will not agree to tax hospitals to fund a $90 million shortfall in the Division of Medicaid.

The $90 million deficit in state funds equates to an actual shortfall of about $375 million for the Medicaid program, which provides health care for roughly 600,000 elderly, disabled and poor pregnant women and children. The state gets a little more than $3 from the federal government for each $1 it spends on Medicaid.

Barbour has tried to place the blame squarely at the feet of the House leadership for the pending cuts. He and the Senate support the hospital tax, and if the House would pass it, Barbour says, that would take care of the deficit and there would be no need to cut.

The House leaders say they fear the hospital patient tax will result in an increase in health care costs for the general public, resulting in higher health insurance premiums.

The Senate supporters of the proposal, led by Public Health Chairman Hob Bryan, D-Amory, say the tax will not be passed on to consumers because with the federal match, hospitals actually will make money.