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House Medicaid expansion bill won’t survive Senate markup

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

Senator Kevin Blackwell, Chairman of Senate Medicaid Committee

  • The Senate Medicaid Chairman says his committee will remove the House Medicaid expansion language and insert their own, with a hardline requirement of a work waiver approval from CMS.

On Thursday, State Senator Kevin Blackwell (R) told reporters a strike-all would be brought forward for the House Medicaid expansion bill in the Senate Medicaid Committee which he chairs.

“Our plan is to let our bill die on the calendar and then we will take the House bill and do a strike-all and put our Senate language in the bill,” said Blackwell.

Blackwell said a work requirement would be a hardline for the Senate, and that at this time those are the only details he could share about the expected language.

As far as the hours for the work requirement, Blackwell said it will be consistent with other states but did not clarify an exact number.

“We will have more to say as we develop it, but we are still working on the details. I would imagine we would have a committee hearing sometime middle of next week and we will discuss the full bill at that time,” said Blackwell.

As for allowing the Senate bill to die, Senator Blackwell attributed timing as the cause of this strategy.

HB 1725 was passed by the House of Representatives at the end of February. The bill would have the Division of Medicaid request a work requirement waiver approval from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and would expand Medicaid up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). However, if the waiver is not approved, the House bill would still direct the Division of Medicaid to expand Medicaid up to that threshold.

During the Biden Administration, CMS has been reluctant to approve work requirement waivers. Those approved during the Trump Administration have all but one been overturned by courts. However, House leadership has said that they remain hopeful that CMS will consider Mississippi’s specific request and grant the waiver.

It is still unclear if the Senate bill will reflect elements of the House proposal including the 138 percent of the FPL or seek a reduced level.

Governor Tate Reeves (R) has long been in opposition to Medicaid expansion, questioning the logic of further expanding the welfare rolls in Mississippi. It is widely speculated that Reeves would veto an expansion bill should it reach his desk.

When asked if Senator Blackwell thought the Governor would allow an expansion bill to become law, he said he thought the Governor to be a reasonable individual.

“I think we have to wait and see the bill, but I think the Governor is a reasonable individual, a smart man. I think he’ll be able to work through what we are trying to do,” said Blackwell.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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