TUPELO • A Lee County lawmaker is voicing renewed openness to the possibility of expanding Medicaid to the working poor.

State Sen. Chad McMahan, a Republican who represents much of Lee County and a small portion of Itawamba County in the Mississippi Senate, penned an op-ed in the Daily Journal on June 6 saying he has not yet taken a position on expanding Medicaid, but he wants more legislative hearings on the topic.

“If it makes sense for the taxpayers, and it brings healthcare to all working Mississippians, it’s my duty to at least review and consider the information,” McMahan wrote.

Mississippi is one of 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid to provide coverage to people making up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

McMahn’s latest op-ed largely restates the view he’s held for the past two years. He told the Daily Journal in January 2020 that he would be open to more hearings on Medicaid expansion.

“I’m for at least having some hearings and at least trying to understand what Medicaid expansion might do for this region in economic terms,” McMahan previously said last year. “I’m neither for it nor against it. I’m for having some hearings.”

But he’s now taking a more forceful tone and actually advocating that more hearings be conducted.

The federal government currently pays about 80 cents on the dollar for Medicaid coverage, while Mississippi pays 20 cents on the dollar. But if Mississippi were to expand coverage, the federal government would pay 90 cents on the dollar, and Mississippi would pay 10 cents.

Critics of Medicaid expansion say that the state could have trouble affording its share of the expansion rollout.

This past legislation session, the Mississippi Senate voted along partisan against a Medicaid expansion measure.

State leaders – including Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn – thus far have been overwhelmingly resistant to the idea of expanding Medicaid access in the state.

Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, the leader of the state Senate, has been somewhat receptive to the idea of conducting legislative hearings on Medicaid expansion, but it has not been a priority of his.

Earlier this year, a group of health care advocates filed preliminary paperwork to place Medicaid expansion in the state Constitution, if approved by the voters.

However, the state Supreme Court in May ended the state’s initiative process over procedural issues involving the state’s congressional districts.

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