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Mississippi Senate moves forward with Medicaid expansion plan despite pushback from Gov. Reeves

It did not take long for the Mississippi Senate to pass its Medicaid expansion proposal.

A measure that has been coined “Expansion Light” around the capitol passed Thursday’s floor vote 37-15 just one day after the Senate Medicaid Committee moved forward with the legislation.

The Senate allowed its expansion bill to die ahead of a legislative deadline just under two weeks ago, took up the House’s version, implemented a strike-all amendment eliminating the other chamber’s language, and inserted its own plan into House Bill 1725 in committee.

Under the Senate’s plan, residents between the ages of 19 and 64 up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level would be qualified for coverage. This differs from the House’s proposal which expanded care to those up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Attempts on the floor, particularly by Democratic Senator David Blount, to persuade members to oppose the strike-all amendment and reinstate the House’s language failed. The majority of the body sided with Senator Kevin Blackwell and his insistence on taking a more “conservative” approach that narrowly avoids full-blown expansion.

That approach also entails a work requirement — one that Blackwell promised would be featured in the legislation. Those seeking coverage must work around 30 hours per week or 120 hours per month to become eligible for expanded care, with some exceptions. Around 80,000 Mississippians are expected to be eligible for Medicaid coverage under the proposal.

Georgia is currently the only state with a work requirement for those seeking Medicaid coverage and there is no guarantee that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would agree to go along with Mississippi’s plan.

Another roadblock in the way of the Senate’s measure is in the Governor’s Mansion. Mississippi’s highest elected official, Republican Governor Tate Reeves, remains an ardent opponent of Medicaid expansion, or as he calls it, an “extension of Obamacare.”

Reeves took to social media on Wednesday, ahead of the floor vote, to express his ire with the Senate’s plan, essentially accusing it of being smoke and mirrors. The Republican governor alleged that a lesser number of people should

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