Sunday, October 5, 2014

Republican Leaders Complain, Do Nothing Constructive

Once again, Mississippi Republicans continue to show us they do not care about our state's increasing poor population and those without health insurance.

At its budget hearing Friday, the state's Medicaid director requested additional funds to help pay for new enrollees in the program. Many of these enrollees were added as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

As expected, Republican leaders like Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden huffed and puffed at Medicaid's request. Oddly enough, they would rather the state pay 100 percent of the costs associated with covering the new enrollees as opposed to 10 percent, which the Affordable Care Act allows. We've said for years that the state will save money if it expands coverage, but that has fallen on deaf ears in the Capitol.

For all of their complaining about the rise of Medicaid's costs, Republican policy makers have not advocated for policies to address the underlying problem: poverty. Rather than be proactive, Republican leaders continue to play catch up to the problems of chronic poverty in our state. Let's not forget that Mississippi has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, currently at 7.9 percent.

We can hope, because we have yet to see any evidence that they will do anything productive, that the Republican majority in the legislature will advance legislation such as tax reforms to help move 22.5 percent of Mississippians out of poverty. Mississippi can and must do better, and the solutions are staring us in the face. Our policy makers simply need to accept reality and reasonable solutions.

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