Lawmakers still up in arms over Medicaid deficit

“We have spent enough time and taxpayer money without reaching an agreement on funding Medicaid,” said GOP Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, who presides over the Senate.

Bryant and most senators back the measures Barbour announced Friday to change how the state taxes hospitals to draw additional federal Medicaid funds and avert the $375 million in budget cuts that had been feared.

“We see that deal as the way to get us out of this,” said Sen. Terry Brown, R-Columbus.

However, House Speaker Billy McCoy blasted the Senate for deserting the state Capitol without a Medicaid compromise with the House of Representatives.

“They’re cutting and running. … It’s another case of the Senate being absolute pawns of the governor,” said McCoy, who wants the Senate to adopt a scaled-down hospital tax combined with a hike on cigarette taxes.

Bryant and Republican legislators have rejected the cigarette tax increase and favor what they consider a fairer, more reliable revenue source from hospitals.

“I now believe it is time to allow the governor’s revised Medicaid plan to be implemented,” Bryant said. “The federal government has approved this plan and has found it requires no legislative action.”

Commercial Dispatch