Accepting funds to assist working poor

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why the stubborn refusal to accept funds to assist the working poor? Last year the Republican administration refused to accept the FREE Federal funds designed to help the working poor gain health insurance and ease the financial burden on the hospitals for the treatment of the uninsured. Already this year and before the 2015 Legislative Session begins, the Republican administration stated it will ignore the needs of Mississippians and refuse the Federal Funds again. Is this good policy or some deep-seated hatred of the President and his signature Healthcare bill that has help so many working poor in states like Kentucky where the administration put their people above politics?
In Mississippi, over 40% of our budget comes from Federal funds. Yet in a state that is first in obesity, teen pregnancy, and infant mortality, our Administration refused to accept funds that would insure 300,000 Mississippians between Medicaid and the Exchanges. Republican Insurance Commissioner Chaney had already designed a Mississippi Exchange program before ACA kicked in; but Gov. Bryant informed the Federal government that Mississippi would not be accepting the funds therefore they were to ignore Comm. Chaney’s plan.
The Federal funds, from the beginning, would not have cost Mississippi anything for four years. Mississippi’s cost would then go to a very small percentage up to 10% in seven years. That amount would be the permanent cost and would only apply to the new Medicaid insured. If you think “I have insurance so this doesn’t apply to me;” think again.Hospitals are suffering because uninsured patients show up at the Emergency room and must be treated. The hospitals pass as much as possible onto insured patients’ bills but must absorb the rest. The loss incurred by the hospital is not being reimbursed as before because of the refusal to accept the Federal Funds. We are seeing the results of this deficit in layoffs, cutting services at satellite hospitals like Highlands, and cut backs to pension funds and benefits as in Pascagoula.
On my facebook page, a friend shared the story of her sister-in-law (Pat) who worked all her life along with her husband but could not afford health insurance. She fell into the “gap” between current Medicaid and the Federal Exchange. Therefore, she did not receive regular checkups and when she felt ill and finally went to a doctor the cancer was already advanced. She could not afford the treatments and passed away in a few months. She leaves small children who will now be dependent on “entitlements” for a long time to come. If “Pat” had insurance, the doctor felt he could have saved her. How could anyone with a conscience and “Christian” values turn their back on the citizens they are charge to serve?
Do you know a potential “Pat?” Would you want to watch them die of a curable disease because they could not afford the test to discover a condition early? If you are truly honest with yourselves; your answer would be yes. We all know someone who works but cannot get insurance. Help us get a message to the Legislature that it’s time to Mississippians, not Nissan, Toyota or the Port of Gulfport. Contact your local Legislators and tell them it’s time to put people over corporations.Tell them we need to accept the Federal Funds for our citizens and our hospitals and the jobs they provide. We have a unique opportunity in Pearl River County, Rep. Frierson is chair of the Appropriations Committee who can bring this to the full House; and Rep. Formby chairs the Rules Committee that moves bills from committee to the full House. Go the for a list of our Legislators and their contact information.
Remember, all State, District and County officials will be running for re-election in 2015. If they don’t show respect for our needy citizens, we can show them the same courtesy in November.

By Agnes Dalton

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