By Bobby Harrison/Daily Journal
JACKSON — The state House has taken the first step to ensuring there is a Medicaid program for about 644,000 people after the new fiscal year begins Monday.
On the first day of a special legislative session today, the House passed 93-23 a bill re-authorizing the Division of Medicaid, but there is still a long way to go in the process.
Legislation also must be taken up to fund the program and, presumably, to levy taxes on health care providers to operate the program for poor pregnant women, poor children, the disabled and elderly.
Thus far, House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, has refused to allow a vote on expanding the program to cover those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level or about $15,000 annually for an individual.
The program was not funded and reauthorized during the regular session because of the fight over opting into a federally funded Medicaid expansion, which generally Democrats support and Republicans oppose. The Senate is waiting on the House bills before acting on the issue.