By Rep. Joey Hood
On June 24, Gov. Phil Bryant called a special session of the Legislature for June 27. This was the second extraordinary special session called by Gov. Bryant in 2013.
This special session was devoted to reauthorizing and refunding the Mississippi Division of Medicaid. The Legislature ended the 2013 regular session without reauthorizing Medicaid or appropriating the funds necessary to run the program after July 1.
The sticking point revolved around whether to expand Medicaid to include an additional 300,000 adults, which is optional for states under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). If Medicaid were expanded, it would increase the Division of Medicaid by approximately 47 percent.
Generally, House Democrats wanted a vote to expand Medicaid before the session ended, but House Republicans refused, contending that a debate or vote on expansion at this time would be both premature and imprudent unless and until more information is provided by the federal government.
Upon gaveling in at 10 a.m., House Medicaid Chairman Bobby Howell called a meeting of the Medicaid Committee. Committee members met to discuss House Bill 1. The bill passed out of committee to the House floor with minimal debate. Three amendments were offered on the House floor. One was deemed not relevant to the bill.
The two amendments deemed germane were then discussed. Amendment one proposed a state-run health exchange over a federally run health exchange. The amendment failed. Amendment Three attempted to put a one-year repealer on the bill. This amendment also failed. The bill passed by a vote of 96-20. I voted against the amendments and for passage of HB 1.
The Appropriations Committee members then received House Bill 2, the funding portion of the Division of Medicaid. HB2 appropriates $840M for Medicaid, which is a 2.24 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations. Members voted to pass the bill out of committee to the House floor.
One amendment was offered to HB2. It installed conditional language that the appropriations funds could not be used unless a discussion and a vote on Medicaid expansion occur. The amendment failed. HB2 passed on a bipartisan vote of 114-1. I voted against the amendment and for passage of HB2.
House members then sent HB1 and HB2 to the Senate for discussion, where they amended HB1 to include the services and programs portion of the Medicaid “Technical” bill. Once House members received the revised bill, they voted overwhelmingly to pass it, 109-4. I voted for HB 1 as amended by the Senate. This concluded the second extraordinary special session of 2013.
The Medicaid bills that were passed will continue many vital services for approximately 700,000 Mississippians. It also lifts the freeze on nursing home reimbursement rates, ensures payments to hospitals and doctors, and keeps the healthcare of many Mississippians intact. I would like to thank the people of District 35 for allowing me the opportunity to serve. If you have any questions or need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. You can contact me at the Capitol at P.O. Box 1018, Jackson, MS 39215.
or call 285-4663. You may also email me at email@example.com or visit my website at www.joeyhoodmississippi.com.