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