The Clarion-Ledger, 5/27/8

Backed by hospital officials who reiterated their support for a cigarette tax hike, Gov. Haley Barbour urged lawmakers today to approve a complicated hospital tax plan to solve Medicaid funding woes.

But some Democrats voiced skepticism after listening to the plan during Barbour’s news conference. A key House leader said “extensive hearings” will be required before that chamber signs off.

“I hope he don’t think we’re gonna go for this quick just because he wants us to,” House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said after listening to the proposal. “There’s a hell of a lot of questions to be answered.”

Any funding plan requires approval from the House and Senate. Both chambers reconvened today in a special session that is costing taxpayers thousands of extra dollars. The federal government’s approval would also be needed.