The Sun Herald (Sunday) - - News -

Mis­sis­sippi con­tin­ues to rank at or near the bot­tom in nearly ev­ery health out­come. A rea­son­able first step to im­prov­ing health out­comes would seem to be in­creas­ing the num­ber of Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans with health in­sur­ance.

For five years, we have failed to ex­pand Med­i­caid, which would en­sure thou­sands of Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans are cov­ered and closer to ac­cess­ing crit­i­cal health care ser­vices. One in five Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans lives below the poverty line, and thou­sands of our fel­low cit­i­zens are work­ing in lowwage jobs that don’t of­fer health in­sur­ance. This fact neg­a­tively im­pacts the state’s ca­pac­ity to move for­ward and in­crease its eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity. Al­most three-fourths of the coun­try has ex­panded Med­i­caid, in­clud­ing places like Louisiana and Arkansas. Res­i­dents of these states are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­creases in cov­er­age, lower med­i­cal debt and im­proved health out­comes. This can hap­pen in Mis­sis­sippi, too.

Our law­mak­ers can ad­dress the health care needs of count­less hard­work­ing Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans who fall into the “gap” be­cause they can­not af­ford cov­er­age or be­cause their jobs don’t pro­vide it. Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion would al­low 167,000 unin­sured adults to be­come el­i­gi­ble for health in­sur­ance. We rely on our law­mak­ers to de­velop Med­i­caid leg­is­la­tion that sup­ports im­proved health out­comes. Other states have learned that Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion is a rea­son­able path to im­prov­ing health out­comes and low­er­ing med­i­cal debt.

Ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid is com­mon-sense leg­is­la­tion that will move Mis­sis­sippi for­ward. I en­cour­age our leg­is­la­tors to re­con­sider this is­sue and take ac­tion in the up­com­ing leg­isla­tive ses­sion to sup­port a health­ier Mis­sis­sippi. – Rev. Al­ice M. Gra­ham, Ph.D. Biloxi

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