The unresolved $90 million Medicaid question for the continued special legislative session next month deserves a resolution.
Gov. Haley Barbour has announced $375 million in cuts to the Medicaid program effective Aug. 6. Legislators return to session Aug. 4. Clearly there is some brinkmanship involved here. Those toe-to-toe negotiations on Medicaid must leave recipients and health care providers more than a little uneasy about their future. It’s time for the brinkmanship to end. Medicaid providers and recipients are held hostage by a political game they have little control over.
Republicans ought to have a frank talk with the governor about his stubborn opposition to raising taxes on cigarettes. Barbour opposed the tax increase on cigarettes when it involved a swap that would have paid for lower taxes on groceries with a tobacco tax increase. Next, a $1-a-pack tax increase on cigarettes fit the Medicaid budget deficit. The House wanted to raise the 18-cent tax on cigarettes, the third lowest in the nation, to fix the Medicaid budget.