Home - Breaking News, Events, Things-To-Do, Dining, Nightlife


Former, incoming heads of state chamber, other business leaders endorse full Medicaid expansion

A delegation of major business leaders, including the incoming president of the state’s chamber of commerce and the former commander of the Mississippi National Guard, pleaded with lawmakers on Tuesday to not adjourn their session without passing a bill that fully expands Medicaid coverage to the state’s poorest citizens. 

Jack Reed Jr. the former Republican mayor of Tupelo and the owner of Tupelo-based Reed’s Department Store, spoke on behalf of the business leaders at the state Capitol, where he urged lawmakers to support expansion because of the positive financial impact it would have on the state’s economy.   

“It’s the right thing to do morally,” Reed said of expansion. “Legislators, by virtue of your offices, you are in a position to make it happen. We Mississippi businesses are supporting you.”

Reed, former chairman of the Mississippi Economic Council and leader of the store that’s been an anchor of north Mississippi for over a century, and his family have a storied history of advocating causes that are now considered visionary but were not politically expedient at the time. 

Reed’s father, Jack Reed Sr., served as the MEC president in the early 60s when he used his position to urge state leaders to keep public schools open and comply with court-ordered integration. 

The elder Reed unsuccessfully ran as the Republican nominee for governor in 1987, was the inaugural chairman of the State Board of Education and was an early voice to call for state politicians to change Mississippi’s former state flag that featured a Confederate battle emblem. 

Scores of medical and faith leaders have spent weeks at the Capitol advocating for lawmakers to compromise on a plan that expands Medicaid coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act to 138% of the federal poverty level and draws down the full 90% matching rate from the federal government. 

But Tuesday was the first time business leaders have openly spoken out about Medicaid expansion. The MEC, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and the Business and Industry Political Education Committee have also tacitly endorsed expansion.

Both chambers of the Legislature have passed plans that expand Medicaid coverage to more Mississippians, but the proposals are drastically different. 

The House’s expansion plan aims to expand health care coverage to upwards of 200,000 Mississippians, and accept $1 billion a year in federal money to cover it, as most other states have done.

The Senate, on the other hand, wants a more restrictive program, to expand Medicaid to cover around 40,000 people, turn down the federal money, and require proof that recipients are working at least 30 hours a week. 

Around 10 business leaders also wrote letters to state leaders on Tuesday,  the majority of whom backed the House proposal to expand Medicaid to more Mississippians and draw the full match from the federal government. 

Pat Thomasson, CEO of Philadelphia-based Thomasson Company, is the incoming MEC chairwoman, and she penned a letter to Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, House Speaker Jason White and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves on Tuesday urging them to support expansion. 

“By covering the working poor and accepting the 90% federal match, plus the $700 million incentive program that would fully pay for the program for the first four years, we will have a healthier Mississippi and a better state economy,” Thomasson wrote. 

B & B Concrete CEO David Brevard, CREATE Foundation President Mike Clayborne, Renasant Bank Board Chairman Robin McGraw, Montgomery Enterprises CEO Luke Montgomery, The Taylor Group CEO Lex Taylor, Community Development Foundation CEO David Rumbarger and MINTACT CEO Augustus Collins all wrote letters to state leaders supporting expansion.  

Retired Maj. Gen. Collins is also the former adjutant general of Mississippi and was commander of the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard under former Republican Gov. Phil Bryant. He wrote a letter to Hosemann urging Medicaid expansion.

“Many rural hospitals are suffering and are on the verge of closure,” Collins wrote. “This expansion has the ability to save these hospitals … Mississippi has delayed far too long. The time is now.”

The Tuesday event happened hours before a group of House and Senate negotiators were scheduled to meet at the Capitol to haggle out a compromise on the different expansion plans.  

Speaker White previously told Mississippi Today he was open to adopting a hybrid model of expansion that uses both public and private options to cover additional people. But it’s unclear if  a majority of Republican senators would agree to a plan that fully expands Medicaid. 

Reed told Mississippi Today that he would encourage state senators who are on the fence about supporting full expansion to think about their legacy and consider the full picture of the economic and medical risks at stake for Mississippi, one of the unhealthiest states in the nation. 

“There comes a time in every legislator’s life when he or she has the opportunity to really do something that makes a difference to thousands of their fellow Mississippians,” Reed said. “This is one of those times.” 

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

Local Dining Stream

Things To Do

Related articles