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As Mississippi Hospitals Fail, Leaders Kill Medicaid Expansion Efforts Again

Standing inside a shuttered hospital’s abandoned emergency room in Newton County, Miss., on Monday night, Democratic candidate for governor Brandon Presley blamed Gov. Tate Reeves for the fact that more than half of the state’s rural hospitals are in danger of closing.

“This is the reality that Tate Reeves has chosen to put us in. Make no mistake, he made this choice,” Presley, a public service commissioner who hopes to unseat Reeves in this year’s elections, said in a video he released on YouTube Monday night.

Earlier that day, Reeves had delivered his annual State of the State address on the Capitol steps in Jackson, where he reiterated his opposition to expanding Medicaid—a policy that many state health-care leaders, Democrats, and some Republicans say would save lives and prevent more ailing hospitals from closing.

“Instead, seek innovative free-market solutions that disrupt traditional health-care delivery models, increase competition and lead to better health outcomes for Mississippians,” Reeves said. “Do not settle for something that won’t solve the problem because it could potentially and only temporarily remove the liberal media’s target on your back.”

As in past years, no Medicaid expansion bill survived the legislative deadline for lawmakers to pass one out of committee. Within 24 hours of Reeves’ address, multiple Medicaid-expansion bills died, including Democratic and Republican-sponsored bills that would have allowed residents to vote on the issue in a referendum.

“If hospitals continue to close, the impact will be catastrophic—jobs lost and health care for thousands gutted,” Presley said in his response to Reeves’ speech. “Every time we close a rural hospital, folks have to drive farther and farther to see a doctor, and the true, sad fact is that some will die.”

Presley confirmed to the Mississippi Free Press that he filmed his address inside Pioneer Community Hospital of Newton, which closed in December 2015, as the Meridian Star reported at the time. Reeves was lieutenant governor and president of the Mississippi Senate from 2012 to 2020, when the Newton hospital and five others ceased operation.

“It is emblematic of what is happening throughout the state,” Presley told the

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