Legislature Leaves, No Medicaid Solution - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 6/4/08

Legislature Leaves, No Medicaid Solution

by Jon Kalahar



The special session at the state capitol is over...for now.

Both bodies of the state legislature and Governor Haley Barbour reached an agreement to return later this month.

They hope by then the deadlock over Medicaid may be solved.

"We all acknowledge that without getting into great detail we all feel like a bit of respite would be good," said Speaker of the House Billy McCoy, (D) Rienzi.

And so despite no agreement to fund the 90 million dollar Medicaid shortfall, the special session will recess for three weeks.

"The biggest thing that'll happen is people will get more information and understand the consequences of what happens if the senate hospital assessment bill doesn't pass," Governor Haley Barbour. 

July first the governor must make cuts that bring Medicaid within budget and without funding from the legislature that means cuts of 375 million dollars, mostly affecting hospitals.

"The purpose of that 90 million dollars was to bring in federal match monies for the hospitals so that's why the savings would be made in the hospitals," said Barbour.

Still, House lawmakers are split down party lines on the best way to fund Medicaid...a cigarette tax or hospital assessment.

 "With respect to the hospital association and with respect to the hospitals the plan has been found. This is a long term plan. This is not a quick fix," said Rep. Mark Baker, (R) Brandon.

"What we did was put the two together as a compromise and we would do some hospital tax and some cigarette tax and the senate didn't see fit to adopt that," said Rep. Tyrone Ellis, (D) Starkville.

Governor Barbour doesn't expect to compromise. He expects the hospital assessment plan to pass.

The House and Senate agreed to re-authorize the Mississippi Department of Employment Security before recessing.

MDES is responsible for paying unemployment benefits and maintaining the 54 win job center across the state.

The senate will also be asked to pass legislation to raise weekly unemployment benefits by 25 dollars when they return June 26th.

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