House leader wants meeting on Medicaid

Two weeks before lawmakers resume a special session, House Speaker Billy McCoy said today he wants to meet with key leaders to seek a compromise on Medicaid funding.

McCoy wants to meet by next Thursday. The session reconvenes at 2 p.m. June 26.

A spokesman for Gov. Haley Barbour said he is willing to meet with McCoy. A response from Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant was not immediately available.

McCoy’s request came a day after Barbour issued a lengthy news release reiterating his support for a hospital tax to fund Medicaid, the health insurance program that serves low-income Mississippians. Barbour, a Republican and former Washington tobacco lobbyist, has threatened deep cuts beginning July 1 if lawmakers don’t support the plan.

Many Democrats in the House and Senate prefer hiking cigarette taxes, or a combination of a tobacco tax and hospital tax increase.

The Mississippi Hospital Association paid a consultant $350,000 to devise a hospital tax formula that received Barbour’s support and overwhelmingly passed the Senate.

Clarion Ledger
6/12/8