A group that was pushing for Medicaid expansion in the polls in Mississippi is “reluctantly” suspending its campaign, members announced Wednesday.
The decision comes after the state Supreme Court ruled Friday that a medical marijuana initiative passed by voters this fall is null and void because the Mississippi initiative process is obsolete. That has effectively killed other initiatives for which people are already petitioning.
Organizers of the 76 initiative said in a statement that they will stop their campaign “until there is once again a process of measuring functional scrutiny in Mississippi.”
“We fully support the call for a special legislative session to restore Mississippi’s constitutional right to vote directly on issues of importance, including Medicaid expansion, and will follow every possible path to restoring voter rights in this state. , ”he said. .
The group hoped that voters would have the opportunity to vote on the Medicaid expansion during the upcoming November 2022 state elections.
Medicaid is a health insurance program for the needy, the elderly, the Czech and the disabled. It is paid for by federal and state money. Mississippi has a population of about 3 million, and Medicaid already covers more than 763,500 people. It is 25% of the population.
Proponents of the 76 initiative have estimated that the expansion would add about 200,000 more people, mostly those working low-wage jobs who do not provide private insurance coverage.
Mississippi is one of 12 states that have not approved the expansion of Medicaid coverage to working poor, which is an option under the Affordable Care Act that was enacted into law in 2010 by then-President Barack. Obama.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and his Republican predecessor, Phil Bryant, have said they believe Mississippi can’t afford to put more people on the program, even with the federal government paying for most of the tabulation.
Because Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the nation, it receives the most generous portions of federal funding for Medicaid. Currently the federal government pays 84.5% of Medicaid expenses in Mississippi. The next largest federal portion goes to West Virginia, at nearly 81%.
In expansion, the federal government would pay a higher share of the cost.
In their statement Wednesday, the group behind the 76 initiative encouraged elected officials to act on the Medicaid expansion, since voters may have to wait a while to make the choice from them.
“We have witnessed unprecedented support for the Medicaid expansion in recent weeks, and we are committed to maintaining the momentum our campaign has created,” the group said. “Our broad coalition of doctors, nurses, business and faith leaders and voters from across the political spectrum is not leaving. We will continue to fight until Mississippians receive the health care they need.”
The state Supreme Court has ruled that the Mississippi scrutiny initiative process is illegal because the initiatives require signatures from five congressional districts to enter the polls, but because of the stagnation of the Mississippi population. Mississippi, the state has only four districts.
The initiative process was added to the Mississippi Constitution in the 1990s when the state had five congressional districts, but the language dealing with the initiative process has never been updated. The state fell into four districts after the 2000 census.
The two Mississippi lawmakers, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, have adjourned for a special session of the legislature this week following the Supreme Court decision.
The Mississippi Legislature usually meets from January to April. Legislators can meet only if the governor calls them back to the Capitol. Gov. Tate Reeves said earlier this week that he is still reviewing the Supreme Court case.
Gunn said he wants lawmakers to reconsider discussing reviving the state’s scrutiny initiative process.
Hosemann said a special session “may be warranted” to discuss reviving a state medical marijuana program. He said sick people who benefit from the drug should not wait for access.
Hosemann said he believes the scrutiny process should be revived, but that it will take some time.
Because it would need a constitutional amendment, it would need two-thirds of the support of lawmakers. Then, the issue should be put to the vote in the next statewide elections, which are November 2022.