Debate continues over Medicaid - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Legislature gets 2nd chance at Medicaid

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Governor Phil Bryant has called a special session that will be focused on Medicaid. Lawmakers failed to pass legislation to re-authorize and fund the program during the regular session.

The session will begin just three days before Medicaid funding is set to expire. Governor Bryant has called on quick action by legislators when legislators reconvene. But for those enrolled in Medicaid, they're worried.

"You shouldn't play politics with people's lives," said Medicaid enrollee Anthony Giardina. "I mean whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, you should be able to have the compassion to care for the ones who need the help."

He says he can't afford the prescriptions he needs without the help of Medicaid.

"They don't do anything, that's when my clock, quote death clock starts ticking," said Giardina.

Reauthorization will be taken up first in the session. Still, positions on expanding Medicaid are split in more than just the legislature.

Those who work closely with patients on a daily basis have different concerns. The Mississippi Hospital Association released a statement that says, "The Mississippi Hospital Association supports Medicaid expansion as a way to cover more Mississippians and cut uncompensated care costs for our state's hospitals as disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments gradually diminish under the Affordable Care Act."

At the other end of the debate stands the Mississippi State Medical Association.

"Physicians fear that an expansion of Medicaid may not be financially sustainable and will impose on the state unintended consequences that will weaken provider capacity which is inadequate now and will worsen," said medical association President Dr. Steve Demetropolous.

No matter what's done in the special session, people like Anthony Giardina hope lawmakers consider Medicaid as the source of thousands of lifelines.

"All they're doing is juggling and playing with our lives," he said.

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