House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson scared education advocates out of their shoes two weeks ago by circulating a letter with dire numbers on how Medicaid has drained tight revenues from their pet program the past decade and would worsen if Medicaid is expanded.
The Poplarville Republican’s spending figures went unchallenged until last week when Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, recognized as the Legislature’s most knowledgeable fiscal authority, weighed in with a letter debunking Frierson’s figures and conclusions.
The tete-a-tete came as legislators stood by awaiting Gov. Phil Bryant’s call for a special session to deal with Medicaid on two fonts. One is to reenact the longstanding federal-state program which was blocked by Democrats at the 2013 regular session in a strategic move to force consideration of expanding the program under the new Affordable Care Act. Second is the issue of expansion, which could add some 300,000 working poor to the rolls. Bryant and other Republicans oppose expansion as too costly, though the federal government would pick up all or most of the tab until 2020.