The Clarion-Ledger Editorial, 2/16/9

While there have been some encouraging signs on both sides of the political spectrum in Mississippi over Medicaid funding, the fact remains that the Legislature has yet to provide stable funding for the program that provides public health care to the poor, the blind and disabled and children.

More than six months ago, Gov. Haley Barbour budged from his previous steadfast opposition to higher cigarette taxes. Last week, members of the House budged from their opposition – at least in recent years – to Medicaid assessments or the so-called “hospital tax.”

House Bill 105 taxes hospitals $45 million to help pay for Medicaid – a program that serves around 600,000 Mississippians. The bill stipulates the tax won’t take effect this year if the state receives money from a federal stimulus package. Mississippi could receive almost $700 million in Medicaid funds from the stimulus, according to several reports.

While both those developments are extremely positive, it will require additional compromise from both sides to craft a realistic Medicaid solution.