Renewed push for Medicaid expansion in Mississippi

Renewed push for Medicaid expansion in Mississippi
Renewed push for Medicaid expansion in Mississippi
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 7:17 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Medicaid expansion is a topic that’s sparked debates at the State Capitol for nearly a decade. But some Mississippians say it should be on the priority list when lawmakers come back next month.

Savannah Willis falls within what’s known as the coverage gap. She makes too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to afford private insurance.

“It’s just you have to decide between, okay, I have to be able to pay groceries, I have to be able to make rent, I have to be able to have renter’s insurance, or homeowners insurance, driving insurance,” explained Savannah Willis who serves as Associate Site Manager for the International Museum of Muslim Cultures. “And so medical, vision and, dental which are all separate, usually fall behind on that list.”

An online petition has just started circulating. It’s a letter to Speaker Philip Gunn. Both he and the Governor have continuously said their position has not changed, and they do not believe the state should expand Medicaid.

To view and/or sign the petition, click HERE.

“Without a ballot initiative process, the legislature plays an essential role in determining whether or not Mississippi expands health care,” noted SPLC Action Fund Director for Political Campaigns Brandon Jones.

He notes that the issue has never really gone away, but the added incentives make it more attractive for lawmakers who have frequently pointed to the cost as a concern.

“Why not take a good hard look at this, again, I from the standpoint of what’s best for the state economy, and what’s best for health outcomes in the state,” asked Jones. “And I think that’s always relevant.”

Dr. John Gaudet was involved in the ballot measure efforts and is now hoping that momentum can carry into the session.

“There is a lot of support for it,” described Dr. Gaudet. “So you know, whether it’s doctors, nurses, advocacy groups, community leaders, it’s a widespread, large group of people that are coming together. And we want our leadership to know that these conversations are going on.”

Working Together Mississippi is hoping other Mississippians will find ways to engage with our lawmakers and let them know that they care about seeing action on this issue.

“I’ve been told that 70% of Mississippians are in favor of expanding Medicaid for Mississippi,” said Rabbi Debra Kassoff. “And if all of those people were to call their elected officials, then this debate would be over.”

Working Together Mississippi has been helping organize civic academies and organizing efforts on Medicaid expansion. For more information about those civic academies, you can email pcperkins@gmail.com or call (504) 442-0714.

“My message to lawmakers is this is no longer a political issue,” added Savannah Willis. “This is a human issue. It does not matter if you can afford insurance. And then you have to send your children out into this world with people who cannot afford insurance. Good meaning people who want to be able to take care of themselves. They need that opportunity. And it is your job as lawmakers to make sure that that gets done. I need that. So please do what you need to do to make sure that I can take care of my family and that we can all take care of one another.”

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