By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Mississippi Health Care Access, a coalition that includes medical providers, religious groups and others interested in the state’s health care issues, will host a public hearing Thursday night in Tupelo on Medicaid expansion.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Link Centre on West Main in Tupelo. A similar meeting will be held at the same time at the Oxford Conference Center on Ed Perry Boulevard.
According to a news release by the group, other meetings will be scheduled across the state to discuss the option to expand Medicaid to provide health care to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level or about $15,000 annually for an individual.
The Legislature ended the 2013 session without funding Medicaid for the upcoming fiscal year because of the issue of expansion.
Democrats in the House blocked funding the existing program, saying they wanted a debate and vote on expanding Medicaid, which is allowed under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and many members of the Republican legislative majority say the state cannot afford the expansion even though the bulk of the cost is paid by the federal government.
At some point before the new fiscal year begins on July 1, it is anticipated Bryant will call a special session to take up the issue of funding the existing program. It is expected that Bryant and the legislative leadership will reject efforts to deal with expansion during the special session.
Jarvis Dortch, program manager with the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program, said he hopes to have health care professionals and legislators at the public hearings, which he said are designed to educate the public about Medicaid expansion.
TUPELO – Thursday, 6 p.m., Link Centre
OXFORD – Thursday, 6 p.m., Oxford Conference Center