Health

Mississippi Blues: The Cost of Rejecting Medicaid Expansion

(Reuters) – As Americans across the nation begin to find out what Obamacare has in store for them, many of Mississippi’s most needy will find out the answer is nothing.

That is likely the case for William and Leslie Johnson of Jackson County, since the state decided not to expand the Medicaid program for the poor under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. As a result, nearly 300,000 adults there will fall through the cracks of healthcare reform.

Many are the working poor – truckers, childcare workers, mechanics – who make too much money each month to qualify for Medicaid under Mississippi’s existing criteria but not quite enough to get government help buying private health insurance on an Obamacare exchange.

Nationwide, 25 states have rejected the Medicaid expansion, leaving nearly 7 million adults who would otherwise have qualified for coverage without benefits. These states, many of them Republican-led, have declined government funding for an expansion largely because they say initially generous subsidies would eventually be reduced, leaving them with an unacceptably large burden in a few years’ time.

Among those states, Mississippi faces one of the most dire situations. It tops the charts for poor-health indicators: highest in poverty, second-highest in obesity, highest in diabetes and highest in pre-term births.

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