Governor says he will try to run Medicaid without legislative funding

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Gov. Phil Bryant said if there is no agreement on Medicaid by July 1 he will try to run the agency without a legislative appropriation or reauthorization, and, essentially, dared anyone to take him to court to stop him.

“As head of the Governor’s Division of Medicaid, I will do all I can to continue and to provide Medicaid to the citizens who qualify in the state of Mississippi,” the first-term Republican said Wednesday after a tourism event at the Capitol. “That is my legal argument. If someone wants to challenge me in court, what is their argument?”

Bryant said he had an obligation to ensure the thousands of elderly residents on Medicaid in nursing homes are not “thrown out on the street.”

The 2013 legislative session ended without Medicaid being funded for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, or being reauthorized past June 30.

Democrats in the House successfully blocked funding and re-authorizing demanding a vote on expanding Medicaid to cover those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,000 annually, as is allowed under federal law. Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, blocked that vote.

The governor said he would call a special session when Democrats will agree to fund and re-authorize the program.

Read more in Thursday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.