JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Medicaid expansion is worth considering, says Rep. Sam Creekmore, the new chairman of the Mississippi House Public Health and Human Services Committee. The new House speaker, Jason White, also wants to consider the policy and announced the leadership team for his four-year term on Friday, Jan. 12.
Creekmore, a Republican from New Albany whose father is a physician, told The Associated Press that he has been willing for years to consider Medicaid expansion as a way to bring more federal money to Mississippi. The state has long been one of the poorest in the nation.
“I’m close to our hospital administrators in New Albany, in Tupelo,” Creekmore said Friday. “I see the struggles they go through. So I’m hoping to put it all on the table.”
White appointed Republican Rep. Missy McGee of Hattiesburg as the new chairwoman of the House Medicaid Committee, also giving her a role in considering broader coverage by the program. She was one of the leaders last year in changing a state law to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from two months to a full year.
Medicaid is health insurance for low-income people, and it’s funded by state and federal money. Under the 2010 health care overhaul signed by then-President Barack Obama, states have the option to expand Medicaid coverage to people working in jobs that provide modest wages but no private health insurance.
Mississippi is one of 10 states—nine with Republican governors and one with a Republican-controlled legislature—that have not taken the expansion option. Debate over the issue has stalled in Mississippi because of opposition from Republican leaders, including Gov. Tate Reeves, who refers to Medicaid as “welfare,” and former House Speaker Philip Gunn, who did not seek reelection last year.
The House chose White as the new speaker on Jan. 2. With some Mississippi hospitals struggling to remain open, White says he wants legislators to consider Medicaid expansion as a way to bring up to $1 billion of federal money to the
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