There have been rumblings in Mississippi recently about putting up the concept of Medicaid expansion for open debate in a state where current Gov. Tate Reeves has repeatedly ruled such a policy out.
Rep. Jason White, the speaker pro tempore of the state House, has, for example, openly conceded his Republican Party had received justified criticism for ignoring an issue with widespread support among the state's residents.
With a highly competitive governor's race due to end with a vote this November, hope for Medicaid expansion proponents is growing.
"There will be discussion in the house, the debates will be there," Tim Moore, president of the Mississippi Hospital Association, told Becker's if Mr. White becomes House speaker. "That is all we have ever asked for."
While approximately 75 percent of Mississipians support Medicaid expansion, including 59 percent of Republicans, two-thirds of state House members are either in favor of the policy or at least undecided, Mr. Moore said.
"We would like to see a different thought process, a different mindset, so that we could at least get this out of the legislature," he said.
The problem is then one of process, however. Even if open debate over the issue begins in January, or even if Democratic candidate Brandon Presley wins the governor's race in what Mr. Moore said was the "most competitive governor's race in 20 years," actually beginning Medicaid expansion would likely not be much before mid- to late 2025, he added. That could be too late for some struggling hospitals.
Gary Marchand, interim CEO of troubled Greenwood (Miss.) Leflore Hospital, told Becker's recently that such Medicaid expansion might be too late for the hospital.
"If we had Medicaid expansion a decade ago, that might have helped," he said. "Medicaid expansion is a little too late to help us financially at this point, but it might help us over the long term. What we need now is a one-time funding source, whether it's Medicaid or Medicare."