Governor’s Medicaid plan hangs in limbo

A hospital tax plan backed by Barbour, a Republican, overwhelmingly cleared the Senate but failed in the Democrat-controlled House. Cigarette and liquor tax hikes are supported by House Democrats, but key committee chairmen have blocked that plan from being considered by the Senate.

A Medicaid advisory committee appointed by Barbour asked him to include a Medicaid funding plan in a separate study of state and federal taxes.

“The governor should wait and call us back in September when we will know the recommendations of his own special tax study committee,” Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, said in a news release. “Any proposal to add taxes onto hospitals and their patients should certainly wait until that report is made.”

Barbour told reporters last week the tax study committee probably will recommend hiking the state’s 18-cent cigarette tax. But, he said, he believes it’s fairer to tax hospitals to pay for Medicaid.

“I don’t think it’s fair to raise some other tax on the public and reduce the hospitals’ share,” he said then.

Barbour spokesman Pete Smith said Monday that the governor “continues to urge (the hospital tax) adoption by the Legislature.”

Clarion Ledger
6/2/8