Gulf Live – Miss. employers who provide health care dropped more than any other state

WASHINGTON — The number of Mississippians covered by employer-sponsored health insurance tumbled by more than 200,000 in recent years, a drop that, in percentage terms, was the steepest in the country during that time, according to newly released estimates by the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

From 1.4 million children and adults under age 65 covered by employer health plans in 1999-2000, the total had fallen to just under 1.2 million by 2007-08, the report showed.

Although other states also experienced declines, Mississippi’s 15.6 percent drop was well above the national average and considerably sharper than that of its neighbors.

Asked Wednesday whether Rep. Gene Taylor has any alternative proposals for covering the state’s uninsured, a spokesman pointed to a November op-ed piece that the Bay St. Louis Democrat wrote on better options for making health care more efficient and affordable.

In terms of directly expanding coverage, however, Taylor’s only suggestion was to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 27.

“We certainly ought to look into it,” Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Oxford, said of Mississippi’s situation in a brief interview Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. In regard to specific actions, Cochran said, “I don’t know of any right now that I would support — or object to either.”