Legislature issues center on money, safety

Published 12:10am Sunday, January 6, 2013

All eyes will look toward Jackson this week as the 2013 session of the Mississippi Legislature convenes.

With the new year and new legislative session comes a new set of challenges for state government, along with some familiar old challenges that come up each year, too.

Legislators representing Southwest Mississippi suggest many topics will be hot ones this year.

What to do — if anything — about proposals to expand Mississippi’s Medicare program as part of the federal health care reform act, will likely take center stage.

We hope Mississippi backs away from the expansion plans. The reason is simple: expanding government costs money and neither the State of Mississippi nor the federal government has a clear handle on how to fund it.

Ultimately nearly all of the Legislature’s decisions in the coming weeks will come down to matters of money or public safety.

We urge lawmakers to be fiscally conservative with taxpayer funds.

Beyond that, our only two requests are simple.

First, please act like adults, work quickly and civilly to get through the public’s business and avoid issues lingering around until the very last minute of the session.

Second, do something productive — and easy — and ban texting while driving for every driver in the state.

That single law could potentially have more impact than nearly any other bill to be debated.

  • Anonymous

    With the congress in Washington acting like children, the state legislature will be pre-schoolers.

  • Anonymous

    Mississippi has long been one of the sickest and poorest states in America, with some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease and more than 1 in 7 residents without insurance. And so you might think Mississippi would jump at the prospect of billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid.

    You’d be wrong.

    Leaders of the deeply conservative state say that even if Mississippi receives boatloads of cash under President Barack Obama’s health care law, it can’t afford the corresponding share of state money it will have to put up to add hundreds of thousands of people to the government health insurance program for the poor.

    The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation has projected that between 2014 and 2019, Mississippi would receive nearly $9.9 billion in federal money for Medicaid expansion, while the state would pay $429 million. That’s $1 from the state for every $23 from Uncle Sam.

    By some estimates, the expansion would add 400,000 people to the state’s Medicaid rolls, increasing enrollment from the current 1 in 5 Mississippi residents to about 1 in 3. Mississippi is spending nearly $822 million of its own money on Medicaid in the current fiscal year, or almost 15 percent of the state-funded portion of the overall state budget.

    Ultimately, pressure from politically powerful health care groups might make it difficult for Mississippi leaders to reject the money. Hospital administrators worry that without a Medicaid expansion, they could be saddled with rising costs from treating uninsured patients.

    “I would at least like to see that our state Legislature has examined how it would work instead of saying, `No, it’s not working for us and we don’t even want to try,’” said Alvin Hoover, CEO of King’s Daughters Medical Center in the small town of Brookhaven.

  • Anonymous

    DEB, you might want to back up your conservative republican ideology with some facts.

  • Anonymous

    WHO IS WE ? ” PLEASE-ACT-LIKE-ADULTS “. ONLY A MAN CAN MAKE A STATEMENT LIKE THAT. DO YOU FEEL ME MR. ?

  • Anonymous

    So more than twice the $600 billion in new revenue was raised by the fiscal cliff deal. And before that there was the $700 billion in reduced Medicare spending passed in the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The country has, in fact, already “confronted” the spending problem.