JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Expanding Medicaid would bring Mississippi more federal money from 2014 through 2016 but could cost the state millions of dollars from 2017 through 2025, according to a study released Monday by the state’s University Research Center.
Bob Neal, an economist at the center, examines the economic impact of adding hundreds of thousands of people to the federal-state health insurance program for the needy, aged, blind and disabled — an option under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said repeatedly that he opposes expanding Medicaid because he believes it would be too expensive and he doesn’t want to increase people’s dependence on government.
Neal says in the study that, over the course of 30 to 40 years, “the benefits of Medicaid expansion might outweigh the costs.”
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“Increased access to health care could enhance the overall health of Mississippi’s residents,” Neal says. “In the long-term, a healthier workforce should result in a more productive workforce, leading to a healthier, more robust economy.”
PPACA would require most Americans to buy insurance and could expand the number of people on Medicaid by raising the income ceiling for eligibility. A divided U.S. Supreme Court this year upheld a provision in the law that could impose a tax on individuals who fail to buy a minimum level of health insurance. But the court said the government could only push states to expand Medicaid programs by changing future Medicaid funding levels, not by changing the Medicaid funding arrangements already in place.
In states that allow expansion starting in January 2014, Medicaid could go to people whose income is up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $23,800 for a family of three, based on 2011 figures.
Each state currently sets its own income thresholds for Medicaid eligibility. In Mississippi, a family of three can have an annual income of no more than $8,160 a year, well below the 2011 federal poverty level of $17,916 annually.
Washington would pay 100 percent of the costs of expanding Medicaid from 2014 to 2016. Between 2017 and 2020, the federal share would decrease to 90 percent and the states’ contribution would rise in stages to 10 percent, where the law says it’s supposed to stay.
Bryant says Mississippi would face millions of dollars in administrative costs even in the years when the feds are paying 100 percent.