JACKSON, Mississippi (WLBT) – The expansion of Medicaid has been a topic that has sparked debate on the State Capitol for nearly a decade. But some Mississippians say it should be on the priority list when lawmakers return next month.
Savannah Willis is in what is called the coverage gap. She earns too much to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to afford private insurance.
“It’s just that you have to decide between, okay, I have to be able to pay for groceries, I have to be able to make rent, I have to be able to have tenant insurance, or home insurance, driving insurance,” explained Savannah Willis who serves as the Associate Site Manager for the International Museum of Muslim Cultures. “And so medical, vision and dental care, which are all separate, generally fall behind on this list.”
An online petition has just started to circulate. It’s a letter to President Philip Gunn. He and the governor have continuously said their position has not changed and that they do not believe the state should expand Medicaid.
To view and / or sign the petition, click HERE.
“Without a voting initiative process, the legislature plays a critical role in determining whether or not Mississippi is expanding health care,” noted SPLC Action Fund Director for Political Campaigns Brandon Jones.
He notes that the problem never really went away, but the added incentives make it more appealing to lawmakers who have often highlighted cost as a concern.
“Why not take a close look, again, from the perspective of what’s best for the state’s economy and what’s best for the health of the state,” Jones asked. . “And I think it’s still relevant.”
Dr John Gaudet was involved in the ballot measurement efforts and now hopes that this momentum can continue during the session.
“There is a lot of support for this,” described Dr Gaudet. “So you know, whether it’s doctors, nurses, advocacy groups, community leaders, it’s a large and important group of people coming together. And we want our leaders to know that these conversations are happening. “
Working Together Mississippi hopes other Mississippians find ways to engage with our lawmakers and let them know they care to see action on this issue.
“I’ve been told that 70% of Mississippians are in favor of extending Medicaid for Mississippi,” Rabbi Debra Kassoff said. “And if all these people called their elected officials, then this debate would be closed. “
Working Together Mississippi has helped organize civic academies and organize efforts for the expansion of Medicaid. For more information on these civic academies, you can email [email protected] or call (504) 442-0714.
“My message to lawmakers is that this is no longer a political issue,” added Savannah Willis. “It’s a human problem. It doesn’t matter if you can afford insurance. And then you have to send your children into this world with people who can’t afford insurance. Well-meaning people who want to be able to take care of themselves. They need this opportunity. And it’s your job as legislators to make sure that happens. I need this. So please do what you need to do to make sure I can take care of my family and we can all take care of each other.