Health Care In The States

Mississippi Dems: We Were ‘Bamboozled’ On Medicaid

By Jeffrey Hess, Mississippi Public Broadcasting

June 29th, 2013, 6:34 PM

With just two days to spare, and with plenty of political drama, Mississippi lawmakers approved a plan late Friday to renew Medicaid for another year.

The joint federal-state program, which provides health insurance to some 700,000 poor Mississippians, was set to expire Sunday night.

Democrats had pushed hard to expand coverage to 300,000 more people, under a provision of the federal health law.

Republicans, including Gov. Phil Bryant, opposed the expansion, saying it would be too expensive, while Democrats countered that the federal government would pick up the tab for the new recipients. The partisan divide over Medicaid expansion led to lawmakers finishing their regular session in April without a plan to keep Medicaid running past the end of this month.

Bryant reacted to the approval of the existing Medicaid program with satisfaction.

“We needed to move, and I felt it had done everything we had accomplished. So I am very proud of it,” he said. “Special sessions are something I will be very frugal with in the future. But this obviously had to be done.”

While the GOP dominates Mississippi’s House and Senate, they needed a super majority – which includes votes from Democrats – to authorize the $400 million in taxes to fund the state’s share of the program. A last-minute legislative maneuver in the Senate left Democrats feeling as if they had no choice but to give up their expansion dreams for a year.

“I think we have been snookered,” said Democratic Rep. Cecil Brown, “This was simply a political stunt by our Senate to force something down our throats and stick a finger in the eye of the governor of the state of Mississippi. I don’t care who the governor is, he doesn’t deserve that.”

Next Year, Same Drill?

While the final vote was overwhelmingly in favor of renewing Medicaid for another year, Democrats are expecting another expansion fight during the next legislative session. House  Minority Leader Bobby Moak warned his colleagues to learn from this experience.

“I have been part of bamboozling the other chamber a lot, and I don’t like getting bamboozled. So I think we need to work a little bit together next time and make sure you are not on the receiving end of the bamboozle stick,” Moak said.

Advocates for Medicaid expansion also sent out a barrage of statements expressing disappointment with the outcome.  The Mississippi Health Advocacy Program called the decision shortsighted and political.

“Given that 59 percent of Mississippians support Medicaid expansion, it is unfortunate that many of our legislators ignored both the will of the people and the needs of those that out them in office,” the statement read.

Republicans were equally adamant.

“We’ve got 700,000 of our people on it right now. To increase to 300,000 more … and the federal government can tell you all they want that they are going to give you free money. It costs somebody. It costs somebody. I just don’t want Mississippi to be a part of the train wreck,” said the Senate’s number two Republican, Terry Brown.

The taxes that support the program are set to expire next year, likely setting up another round of debate and potential showdown over Medicaid and the expansion issue.

This story is part of a collaboration that includes Mississippi Public Broadcasting, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

9 Responses to “Mississippi Dems: We Were ‘Bamboozled’ On Medicaid”

  1. Kelly says:

    RE: How States Rank on Health Care

    All 50 states were ranked based on 32 indicators, including access, quality, cost, insurance, preventive care, potentially avoidable hospital visits, and premature death (death before age 75).

    Where did Mississippi rank? Mississippi was tied for last place with Oklahoma.

    Mississippi? What a joke! No surprise, Neanderthal Tea Party Republicans control Mississippi state politics.

  2. Rip says:

    If Mississippians had any brains, they’d stop drinking the Republican brew and simply ask their legislators and ask their governor why they rank last in health care. Alas, don’t hold your breath! For some strange reason, Mississippians keep re-electing Republicans. Go figure?

  3. Brent says:

    Kelly, stop talking. You are literally are lowering the IQ of the room. Your fallacy here is known as post hoc ergo propter hoc. However, if you had paid attention during your high school science class on the day that they talked about experiment design you would know the difference between correlation and causation. Indulge me for a moment and look at the list of states that score lowest and highest on that list (http://www.webmd.com/news/20070613/how-states-rank-on-health-care) and you’ll notice Northern states are near the top and southern states are near the bottom. This isn’t a coincidence. The south has always been behind the north even before the civil war because they were a far more agricultural society while the north was devoted to education and industry. Add in the north systematically destroying the majority of southern infastructure during the civil war into that mix and you discover that the south has been behind the north in almost everything for the last century.

    Just as many other foolish people, you attempt to provide support for your position by adopting a static rather than a dynamic view of history. If you hadn’t also been dozing off during your government and history classes you would remember that the south was pretty upset and disenfranchised following the civil war and, as such, the majority of the southern states were actually democratic (the solid south as they were called). It has only been since after the 1960s that these states have switched back to republican control after the democratic party became increasingly counter-culture. So these “republican” states as you claim them to be have been under republican control for less than one generation. Allow me to snidely appologize to you that those state legislators haven’t been able to end over a century and a half of inferiority (presided over by democrats) in healthcare, education, and income inequality in one generation.

    Oh, those northern states with great healthcare rankings that you are so proud of noting? Guess which political party controlled the government which built the infastructure of those states? *Spoiler alert it begins with an R

  4. Geri says:

    Sorry Brent, as much as you try, you can’t spin the facts. Since the Civil War until the mid twentieth century, Republicans were mostly in the northern states and favored a strong central government. Abraham Lincoln, a staunch Republican, was a liberal. He used the most federal power of all the Presidents in America’s history. The Democratic Party was predominant in the southern states over the same period because many Democrats supported slavery which was mostly a southern tradition. In the mid twentieth century, a party shift began. Democrats began to increasingly grow in numbers in the northern states while Republicans began to increasingly grow in numbers in the southern states. We can see that shift today. The two parties basically flip-flopped demographics and ideology over the past 150 years. However, the shift was in name only. In the mid nineteenth century, the liberal party was the Republican Party and the conservative party was the Democratic Party. For anyone to say that “today’s” regressive Republican Party controlled the government which built the advanced healthcare infrastructure enjoyed by northern states is disingenuous. Regardless of party name, it was a liberal ideology and culture that created the healthcare infrastructure in the northern states that today ranks at the top of almost every healthcare related study while conservatives in the south ignored healthcare almost completely for many of the most recent decades. Hence, we have Mississippi.

  5. Richard says:

    The civil war brought a humiliating and destructive defeat and ruined what little advanced infrastructure they had built up until that time. Yet, it did not have to be that way. They did not have to suffer Major General William Sherman’s “March to the Sea”, the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted through Georgia from November 15 to December 21, 1864. The south could have avoided such destruction, but they chose otherwise. Well before the northern armies were ordered to slash and burn the south, the south knew that it was only a matter of time before the civil war would be officially over. These southern hard-heads were the tea party of their era. The same is true today in the Congress. We have a few hard-heads that refuse to admit that they are wrong. The handwriting is on the wall. It is only a matter of time before the tea party becomes just a bad memory. A horrible nightmare that could have been avoided. They have the same mentality of those that decided to extend the civil war for two year longer than was necessary. The north didn’t destroy the south, the south destroyed the south! By their hard-headedness! The exact same way that they destroyed healthcare for their residents over recent decades. If anyone needs the Medicaid Expansion, it’s the southern states. Medicaid Expansion would bring the southern people out of the dark ages. Sadly, they just don’t get it.

  6. Brent says:

    Geri you’re mostly correct in that some of the social rhetoric of the parties has changed. For which I will make no defense, The civil rights record of the republican party of recent years is appalling. As an atheist I literally cannot believe some of the things that republican candidates seem to actually believe. However, I guess that’s what happens when you take your moral code from a book written and compiled 2-4k years ago.

    Having said that, the core supporters and ideologies of both parties have remained largely the same throughout the years. Lincoln favored a strong central government because he wanted to preserve the integrity of the union under a central government. This is because he believed that a fragmented government would be detrimental to America’s future prosperity. It was not because he bore any special concerns for the rights of slaves. The republican controlled north after the war favored big government only so long as it supported capitalism and the free markets. As today, their policies were better for you the larger of a corporation you ran. The GOP has been and for the foreseeable future will be fiscally conservative and that is ultimately what this healthcare debate comes down to because at the end of the day every dollar that funds these healthcare entitlement programs is a dollar that more important government agencies don’t see.

    What the southern states need is not medicaid expansion. What they need is better funding for their education programs so that people won’t be so poor that they qualify for these programs in the first place. As a final note about the Tea Party, as I’ve said above I make no defense for their ideologies because they are repulsive to me. I am opposed to the legislation of morality by any party but I’d rather vote for a politician who refuses to expand a program that already eats money at a faster rate than the GDP produces it, but believes that a bearded wizard in the sky watches over all of us; than I would for a politician who believes that love is sexless but subscribes to the robin hood school of economics.

  7. T Combs says:

    Republicans believe that Heath Care should only be available to people who can afford it … like air conditioning in the home or extra cable channels.

    If you can’t afford it .. just don’t get sick.

  8. Richard says:

    Well said T COMBS…

    In their utopian dream of creating a class based society, Repiglicans think that “old white males” are the only societal class that matters. Certainly, women and people of color have no place in their scheme. No better state represents class warfare better than Mississippi. It’s Repiglican heaven!

  9. Richard says:

    While Mississippi needs serious reform of their education system as some have concluded here, their most urgent need is to promote a healthcare system that is all inclusive. Even a Mississippi Repiglican believes that children are more receptive and better prepared to learn when their bellies are full and they aren’t fighting untreated medical issues. You can’t learn very well when you are hungry and in pain! Get it?

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