Bryant’s latest Medicaid strategy raises some serious doubts

That seemed to be the case last week when Gov. Phil Bryant said he would try to run Medicaid even if the Legislature failed to pass bills reauthorizing or funding the program. Beyond the cloudy legality of the Republican’s claim, it turns away from the clear-as-glass GOP strategy of blaming Democrats for voting against the program and causing a calamity where 640,000 Mississippians wouldn’t have health care coverage come July 1.

Those GOP positions, repeated over the last two months, appeared aimed at ratcheting up pressure on members of the House Democratic minority. The idea is that some would give in and vote to reauthorize the state-federal health insurance program for the poor without insisting on expanding Medicaid to cover additional people. The plan appeared to be to build the pressure into June and then for Bryant to call lawmakers back for a special session, with the threat of the program’s imminent collapse teetering over Democrats’ heads.

But if it’s Bryant’s position that he can keep Medicaid going even if the Legislature doesn’t act, why say it out loud? It’s likely to encourage some Democrats to keep fighting.

Jeff Amy
Clarion Ledger