After 8 years of denying healthcare to the working poor, an overwhelming mandate from the 2018 Mid-term Elections may have Phil Bryant singing another tune.
So, why the change of heart? Follow the money. For years we have heard the plight of rural hospital and their financial difficulties stemming from the reduction in Medicaid payments for uninsured patients coming through their emergency rooms. What we haven’t heard is that many of these hospitals are privately owned or governed by a board of Republican donors and voters. Now faced with bankruptcy and closure looming, they have finally started putting pressure on this governor who openly refused to shake President Obama’s hand let alone accept matching Federal funds that would have provided healthcare to the most vulnerable – the working poor.
The mid-term elections showed healthcare or lack thereof as a driving issue among voters, even in Mississippi. It’s a pity that this governor has denied his citizens affordable healthcare both Medicaid and a competitive Exchange. For years citizens have had to use the national Exchange for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). These policies and their rates have always been higher than neighboring states who accepted the Federal funds and established competitive Exchanges. Even our own Insurance Commissioner Cheney tried to establish a competitive Exchange when ACA first rolled out but was thwarted by Bryant who informed the Federal program that Mississippi would not be accepting the Federal funds.
Now that Federal matching percentages have dwindled to almost nothing, Bryant is clandestinely trying to join 38 other states who provide for their citizens in spite of their politics.
Are Republicans finally losing control of the Southern vote? Is the base going to finally follow their own best interest instead of an R or a D behind a candidate’s name? The answer may not be far away as Mississippi begins its local election cycle on January 2, 2019.