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Mississippi House makes history with Medicaid expansion bill that now awaits Senate’s approval

Lawmakers in the Republican-heavy Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday to expand Medicaid with a work requirement tentatively in place.

The Healthy Mississippi Works Act would expand healthcare coverage to an estimated 200,000 people who are employed but don’t make enough to afford private health insurance. The work requirement, which would need approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), would require people to work at least 20 hours a week for an employer that does not offer insurance.

However, a second section of the legislation makes clear that if the work requirement waiver is not approved by CMS by Sept. 30, 2024, Medicaid would still be fully expanded to people up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The reason being is to ensure Mississippians still have better access to healthcare in case a situation like in Georgia arises, where an ongoing legal battle appears to hinge on President Joe Biden either being booted from office or having a change of heart in terms of work requirements for federally offered healthcare.

Rep. Missy McGee, who presented the legislation, delivered a speech deemed powerful by her peers in which she said expanding Medicaid is the “right thing” to do.

“Beyond the policy and politics of this issue, what we really have before us is a solution to a fundamental challenge – access to healthcare,” McGee said. “It’s a topic that should transcend politics and economics. For at its core, it is about the wellbeing and dignity of every Mississippian.”

Citing statistics such as Mississippi being the worst state for life expectancy plus having the highest rates of preventable deaths, maternal mortality, infant mortality, and fetal mortality, McGee said it is imperative state leaders offer an easier path to preventive care after over a decade of refusing Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

“In fact, many of the leaders in our state – good, well-intentioned people – have refused to even allow a conversation to come forward in the form of a bill,” McGee continued. “Yet, we have yet to offer anything that can

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