Mississippians deserve more than ‘talk’ about health care

Published 2:50 pm Monday, January 29, 2024

It’s a new year; a new Legislature; and the same old problems facing Mississippi’s underinsured and uninsured.

But could there be good news on the horizon?

According to a report from Mississippi Today, leaders in both the Medicaid Committee and Public Health and Human Services Committee of the state House of Representatives have declared “nothing is off the table” when it comes to addressing health care shortfalls in the state.

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Missy McGee, the Hattiesburg Republican who chairs the Medicaid Committee, boldly declared 2024 “could definitely be a historic year for the state of Mississippi in that we have talked a lot about providing health care to low-income workers.”

“Talked a lot about” is not a reassuring assessment, and it’s a far cry from actually “doing something about” the shortfalls.

Mississippi’s woeful lack of health insurance and medical services for poor and underserved is a serious crisis. Our state has some of the worst maternal health and infant mortality statistics in the nation. Less than two weeks ago, state Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney gave a harrowing report to lawmakers, presenting data that shows Mississippi has the highest rate of preventable deaths in the country. “These problems have solutions,” he told the Senate Public Health Committee.

Of course, those solutions will not be easy, inexpensive or convenient. Those solutions will require a commitment and a setting aside of politics and partisanship – as well as a governor who doesn’t vow to veto any legislation aimed at expanding Medicaid or health insurance coverage to the working poor.

In years past, our state has faced all those challenges and more. Let’s hope the 2024 lawmakers’ optimism really does lead to a “historic year” for the residents of Mississippi.