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Barbour writes lawmakers concerning Medicaid

JACKSON — Current Congressional healthcare proposals to expand Medicaid coverage to individuals above the federal poverty line would greatly increase costs to the states at a time when tax revenues are shrinking, Governor Haley Barbour wrote in a letter to Mississippi senators and U.S. Senate leadership.

If Medicaid coverage were to apply up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, the number of Mississippians on the program would grow to more than one million individuals, or one in three citizens. Costs to Mississippi taxpayers for this expansion would swell to $1.3 billion over the next 10 years, Barbour said.

“There is no way for Mississippi to pay the proposed extra costs of Medicaid except by raising our sales or income tax or both,” Barbour said.

He added that the state budget cannot bear this increased cost, which would not only saddle citizens with increased taxes but also hamper Mississippi’s recovery from the national recession. Already, state tax collections have missed expectations for 15 consecutive months. Projected budget shortfalls for the next two years alone are $715 million in fiscal year 2011 and $1.2 billion in FY 2012.

“This legislation is the wrong reform,” Barbour said. “As Democrats seem to be willing to take any deal to pass their ‘historic’ bill, I will continue to share with taxpayers both in Mississippi and across the country the consequences such policies would have on their access to quality and affordable health care.”

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