The Clarion-Ledger Editorial, 6/9/8

The special session of the Mississippi Legislature called by Gov. Haley Barbour currently is in a “time out” after hitting an impasse over how to fund the state Medicaid program.

The underlying political tension between Barbour, a Republican, and Democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy had been kept in check during the regular session, but boiled over last week. A “cooling-off period” is a good idea. They come back June 26.

The challenge is to get past the politics and on to a real, long-term solution for funding Medicaid. That is something that past administrations have faced, avoided and now is in Barbour’s lap.

The program faces a $90 million deficit. The Legislature went home without plugging that hole with neither Democrats nor Republicans willing to face the tough decisions required to do it. While Medicaid has been propped up by so-called “one-time money” for a recurring program, those options are more difficult and are opposed by Barbour. He is right. It only makes for future problems.