By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
PHILADELPHIA – Gov. Phil Bryant reiterated his plan to expand the health care industry in Mississippi, but said funds from the controversial federal health care law will not be used for that expansion.
During his speech Thursday at the historic Neshoba County Fair, the Republican reiterated his opposition to participating in the expansion of Medicaid through the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
He again said the state cannot afford the expansion of Medicaid even though the federal government will pay for the bulk of the costs.
After his speech, he discounted a study by Arkansas officials indicating the expansion will actually generate additional tax revenue in that state.
While Bryant does not want to take federal funds to expand Medicaid, he told the crowd that he still is working to attract additional health care providers to the state through tax credits.
“We are the most under-served health care state in the nation, and we need to do something about it,” said Bryant, who has spoken at the historic fair 14 previous times as lieutenant governor and auditor, but was making his first appearance as governor.
Bryant said his goal is for the state’s unemployment rate to be 7.5 percent by 2015. It is currently at 8.8 percent – about one-half of a percentage point above the national average.
A news release said that 1,800 new jobs have been created during his first year and 400 existing jobs have been retained. Referring to jobs, he said, “I am after them every day. You have not seen anything yet.”
Bryant also said that he is working to ease regulations on Mississippi businesses.
“We are going to look at every regulation in the state of Mississippi. If it is not jobs friendly, we are going to get rid of it,” he said “We are going to make sure we are the most jobs-friendly state in the nation.”
Bryant spoke before several hundred at the Founders Square Pavilion. The crowd was attentive and receptive.
He ended the speech by calling it “magical” that he and his wife, Deborah, were living in the Governor’s Mansion.