Gov. Haley Barbour’s spokesman recently told a reporter that “the governor doesn’t compromise.”
Never has this attitude been more apparent than in the current dispute between the governor and the House of Representatives over funding for Medicaid. The governor wants to tax hospitals while the House opposes additional taxes on health care.
Medicaid provides medical insurance for needy Mississippians. This year, Medicaid will spend more that $4 billion providing health care to almost 615,000 people, nearly one-fifth of our population. The federal government will pay $3 billion of the cost, and the state will pay the rest, a good deal by any measure.
The federal government changed the Medicaid rules leaving roughly a $90 million shortfall in the state portion of the Medicaid budget. Gov. Barbour wants to tax hospitals to fill that hole. During the regular session, the House proposed increasing the tax on cigarettes as an alternative.