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Reeves slams new healthcare law

JACKSON — State Treasurer Tate Reeves says recently passed healthcare reform threatens the state’s fiscal outlook.

In a statement, Reeves said, “It is hard to believe at a time when our state’s budget for the next several fiscal years is in limbo, when gas prices are steadily increasing, and the economy is still struggling, the U.S. Congress passed the most mammoth social program, in the name of healthcare reform, since the mid-1960s. As Mississippi families and businesses continue to struggle in the midst of the current recession, they do not need the additional burden of mandated health insurance premiums, taxes and other hidden expenses added to their budgets.

“Any reform that increases dependency on services from the federal government is bad for America and even worse for Mississippi. Doctors, not bureaucrats, should be making our health care decisions. This massive expansion of federal bureaucracy will result in additional costs crippling businesses and citizens, bankrupting state budgets and expanding the state’s costly Medicaid program which is already our second largest budget expense. Unfunded mandates will open the door for additional fraud and wasteful spending in an already turbulent economy. This is not the kind of hope and change Mississippians need.

“Current estimates for the costs of the new healthcare legislation paint a grim picture for future federal and state budgets. Discretionary expenses generated by federal agencies, such as the IRS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (which includes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) were not included in the $938-billion estimate. So far, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that each of these agencies will incur from $5 to $10 billion implementing the new changes. Make no mistake, these costs will continue to trickle down to the state level, resulting in additional taxes on our businesses and citizenry. And I am against any tax increases at the federal or state level to pay for this expansion of federal bureaucracy.

“Of particular concern are future Medicaid budgets since the legislation does nothing to ensure that there will be future savings in Mississippi’s program, yet it guarantees program expansion. The Joint Committee on Taxation reports that an individual who is eligible for Medicaid “can always choose to leave the employer’s coverage and enroll in Medicaid…” This expansion of Medicaid will add approximately $150 million in unfunded mandates each year for Mississippi’s budget. It is estimated that in the next 10 years, over $1 billion will be paid by Mississippi taxpayers for this expansion, potentially growing Medicaid’s percentage of the state’s general fund budget from 24.5 percent to 36.6 percent of projected revenue by fiscal year 2019.”

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