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Senate to gut Medicaid expansion plan passed in the House and implement own language

As Mississippi continues to be plagued by a healthcare crisis that has drawn national attention, lawmakers are still mulling legislation that would expand Medicaid access in the state.

With a deadline for each chamber to pass legislation originating on its own side looming, Senate Medicaid Committee chairman Kevin Blackwell has informed the media that his side intends to squash its Medicaid expansion bill and take up the House’s version, but not without a complete overhaul.

“We’ll take up the House bill, do a strike all, and put our Senate language in that bill,” Blackwell told reporters at the Capitol.

Last month, the House passed The Healthy Mississippi Works Act to expand healthcare coverage to an estimated 200,000 people who are employed but don’t make enough to afford private health insurance, also known as a work requirement. Currently, this group does not qualify for Medicaid, exempting pregnant or disabled adults, which has taken a toll on emergency rooms across the state required by law to provide treatment regardless of insurance or ability to pay.

Now the bill sits in the Senate where it will be gutted entirely for lawmakers in the chamber to implement their own proposal — one which Blackwell ensures will still feature a work requirement. While details remain sparse, the Senate Medicaid Committee plans to hold a hearing next week to unveil the text of the new bill.

Regardless of the Senate’s proposal, any attempt by lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage in Mississippi would likely have to be veto-proof as Gov. Tate Reeves maintains a strong stance against what he believes would be an extension of welfare.

Mississippi remains one of the worst states for life expectancy and tops the rankings for preventable deaths, maternal mortality, infant mortality, and fetal mortality in the U.S.

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