Medicaid expansion would create many new work opportunities, IHL research estimates

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – The Medicaid expansion that is part of the politically charged federal health care law would create 9,000 jobs in Mississippi, according to the University Research Center.
“That is as many new jobs as Nissan and Toyota combined,” former state Economist Phil Pepper said.
The study concluded more than 4,100 jobs would be generated in 2014 should state leaders opt to participate in the expansion, which is not required.
Pepper and former state Health Officer Alton Cobb discussed the proposed Medicaid expansion Monday at a luncheon meeting of the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute/Capitol press corps. Later on Monday, the Institutions of Higher Learning released the study.
When fully enacted in 2020, the study estimates the expansion would cost the state about $65 million annually if nearly all people eligible participate, with increases projected as health care costs rise. The state would spend $117.8 million for its share of the expansion but would receive $53.2 million in new federal funds.
Cobb called the expansion “a bargain.”
Most of the state’s Republican leadership, including Gov. Phil Bryant, have said Mississippi cannot afford it.
“While the study shows that Medicaid does not pay for itself, much of the costs are offset by additions to the general fund through tax revenue generated by the influx of federal expenditures,” said state economist Darrin Webb. “Policy makers will have to determine if the long-run health benefits of Medicaid expansion outweigh these remaining costs.”
Bryant spokesman Mick Bullock said the IHL report won’t change the governor’s position.
“Governor Bryant does not support directing additional state resources that could be spent on core government functions like public safety and education into a Medicaid expansion,” Bullock said.
The new federal law expands Medicaid to cover people with incomes up to about 139 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,000 annually for an individual and $31,000 for a family of four.
When the expansion begins in 2014, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the new costs. From 2020 on, it will pay 90 percent and the state 10 percent. The federal government currently pays about 74 percent of Medicaid costs in Mississippi.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com