House Democratic Caucus Statement on Medicaid at Sine Die of the 2013 Legislative Session

Mississippi House Democratic Caucus Press

Contact: Rep. Bobby Moak, (601) 359-2860

April 4, 2013

Jackson, MS- The House adjourned for the session today leaving in limbo the funding and reauthorization of the state Medicaid program. At the beginning of the session Democrats made it clear to the Governor and to the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives that they wanted a conversation and an up or down vote on the most important issue in generations — Medicaid expansion and alternative healthcare for 300,000 Mississippians. The Governor and House leadership refused to even allow a discussion of this critical issue and this obstinate refusal has resulted in the failure of the legislature to reauthorize or fund the Medicaid program.

Statement from House Democratic Caucus Leader Bobby Moak (D-Bogue Chitto):

“The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Governor Phil Bryant. The Mississippi Senate sent to the House its Medicaid reauthorization bill that would have allowed a vote on Medicaid expansion. In an unprecedented move, the Speaker of the House sent the Senate bill to the Rules Committee, bypassing his handpicked Medicaid Committee, where it was killed. Democrats made at least 35 attempts to have the bill considered by the Republican leadership by introducing resolutions to revive the legislation. Republicans killed the resolutions with no other responses to Democratic offers to compromise.”

Democrats offered to agree to a reauthorization of the program with expansion only if certain triggers were activated and the offer was not deemed worthy of a response from the House leadership. Democrats also offered to House Republican leadership a plan to reauthorize Medicaid for a short period so that the Governor could obtain the information he says he is lacking and to then vote on expansion, but this offer too was met with no response.

During this time the Democratic leadership also appealed for compromise to the Governor. No response was ever forthcoming from the Governor other than press releases and statements to the press indicating that he was opposed to alternative healthcare for working families.

At least 24 organizations including the following groups joined together to support the position and votes Democrats took during the session in attempting to offer alternative healthcare in opposition to the stand of the Governor and Republican House Leadership.

AARP
American Cancer Society Action Network – MS Chapter
American Lung Association – MS Chapter
American Heart Association – MS Chapter
Catholic Charities
CLA Healthcare Consultants, Inc.
Forest General Hospital
Just Advocacy of Mississippi
Leukemia Lymphoma Society – MS Chapter
Mississippi Center for Justice
MS Economic Policy Center
MS Health Advocacy Program
MS Hospital Association
MS Human Services Coalition
MS Religious Leadership Conference
MS State Conference of the NAACP
National Alliance of Mental Illness – MS
National Association of Social Workers – MS Chapter
Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi
Public Policy Center of Mississippi
Southern Echo
Southern Poverty Law Center
Southern Regional Office of the Children’s Defense Fund

No groups or organizations have come forward supporting the governor’s position. Only our Governor and Republican legislative leadership have stood as opposition, stating there are not enough votes to pass the expansion measure. These statements stretch credulity, however, as if there are insufficient votes to pass expansion why not allow a debate and an up or down vote. Democrats have publicly challenged the Republican leadership and the silence has been deafening.

Democrats will continue to work toward expansion of healthcare for everyone by pushing for a vote on the issue. Democrats stand firm in the position that Mississippi needs the $10-$15 billion dollar infusion into the program and the 9000 jobs that will be created. Democrats wanted to have that vote during the regular session, but now Republicans have forced a special session costing $30 thousand dollars per day, putting 700 thousand Medicaid recipients at risk and jeopardizing the healthcare of 300 thousand more Mississippians. Additionally, if no action is taken you will likely begin to see mass layoffs at Mississippi hospitals, or hospital closures.

House Democratic Caucus Release
4/4/13