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Bryant’s policies cause financial crises and hardships

Some republican states’ damaging partisan politics are slowly giving way to common sense and the realization of the success of the Affordable Care Act.  Recently, several Republican governors accepted the Medicaid expansion for next year. Pennsylvania’s Governor Corbett has recently done so, and now the governors of Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming are preparing to accept the ACA Medicaid Expansion, which will provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of uninsured people.  The reasons are simple: affordable health care is every American citizen’s right, hospitals will decrease the number of indigent patients leaving the hospitals without paying the bills, and  states’ taxes will help the state’s own citizens, instead of going to healthcare for other states.

Mississippi’s hospitals and healthcare facilities, instead, are struggling to provide basic care. In the past year, Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg has had to absorb a $32 million loss in revenue caused by cutbacks in state and federal programs, and an actual increase in the number of uninsured patients. In 2013 alone, the hospital provided about $120 million worth of uncompensated care.  That’s up 18% from the previous year.  Like Forrest General, every hospital in the state is struggling to provide basic services, which has caused cutbacks and layoffs.

Gov. Phil Bryant’s alternative is to give Mississippi hospitals $4.4 million to offset the loss of funds due to the Affordable Care Act.  His convoluted plan to replace the Medicare Expansion does not save the state any money.  In fact, $4.4 million in state funds for his plan is being taken from education and other state budgets, at a time when our state’s public schools have not been fully funded by the MAEP in twelve years.

So, let’s recap:  In refusing the Medicaid expansion, the governor is turning down over 500 million dollars in federal funds…funds that would expand healthcare, insure over 300,000 citizens, and put people to work. When the governor speaks of Mississippi not being able to afford the payback, he omits the fact that for every dollar in federal taxes our state pays, it receives $3 in return.  As he insists the state can’t afford the estimated $7 Million to expand Medicaid, his failure to do so causes the monthly cost for insurance to increase in Mississippi, with our tax dollars going to states like Arkansas, and soon, Tennessee, for their healthcare.  An all-round lose-lose situation for our people.  And now with Tennessee accepting the ACA expansion, and upgrading their education budget with tuition-free community colleges in 2015, (paid for by a state lottery), it will be Mississippi once again, who will be left in the dust when it comes to industries and corporations relocating to a state whose populace has a high-tech, capable trained workforce, good schools and a great quality of life.  Governor Bryant continues to shoot Mississippi in the foot, and his blame game is becoming increasingly transparent.

By Deborah Craig