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Fireworks erupt between Mississippi governor candidates, other highlights from Hobnob

Candidates vying for statewide office gathered at the Mississippi Economic Council’s annual Hobnob event with the two people running for governor stealing the show.

In what will be one of the final times Mississippians hear from both gubernatorial candidates before hitting the polls on Nov. 7, Democratic challenger Brandon Presley and incumbent Republican Tate Reeves did not hold back during their allotted 10 minutes in front of business leaders across the state.

The largest of the topics discussed by Presley and Reeves was healthcare – specifically Mississippi’s ongoing hospital crisis in which over 30 hospitals are at risk of closure.

Presley continued on one of his main running points which has been that Medicaid expansion will prove invaluable in keeping hospitals open. A longtime advocate for expansion, he blamed Reeves and “political pettiness” for the current state of healthcare, pointing to GOP-led states such as Oklahoma and South Dakota that have decided to expand Medicaid coverage.

“But for the pettiness of Tate Reeves, the partisanship, the cheapness of politics, we would expand Medicaid right now,” Presley said. “I make this pledge to you. If I am elected governor, we will take steps on day one to begin the road to expand Medicaid without wasting any time.”

Presley, a longtime public service commissioner representing the state’s northern district, is confident that he would “get along better” with the legislature’s GOP supermajority than Reeves does. Presley is the only Democratic member of the three-person public service commission.

Reeves, on the other hand, used his time on the stump to once again shoot down Medicaid expansion, saying it would be “expanding welfare.” He instead touted his recently announced Medicaid reimbursement reforms, which could ultimately allocate nearly $700 million in annual payments to hospitals throughout the state.

“It’s going to give us time to shore up their finances. It’s a far better plan than expanding welfare,” Reeves said. “It’s a plan that will work for the people of Mississippi.”

The incumbent also referenced the nearly $104 million Hospital Sustainability Grant Program, which has been met with criticism as lawmakers and health officials are unable

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