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A view of the Mississippi State Capitol building from the front side
Duvalier Malone writes that Medicaid expansion will be a turning point for Mississippi’s health-care system and an economic boost for the entire state. “Medicaid expansion will provide sustainable jobs that raise families and empower entire communities,” he writes. Photo courtesy Mississippi Legislature

Opinion | Medicaid Expansion Will Boost Health-Care Systems and Create More Jobs

Medicaid expansion seemed like a pipe dream in Mississippi for a long time. Republican leaders always refused to entertain the idea, leaving hundreds of thousands of Mississippians without health insurance and putting tremendous pressure on our struggling hospitals. However, something remarkable is happening. The Mississippi House of Representatives passed a Medicaid Expansion bill by a 98-20 vote on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. This could become a turning point for our health-care system.

Despite being one of the poorest states in the country with some of the worst health disparities, Mississippi remains one of 10 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Instead of focusing on what was good for our people, we heard political rhetoric emphasizing “Obamacare” and “welfare,” which fueled opposition to expansion. The House bill passing suggests that Republicans have changed their views about expanding Medicaid. New Republican House Speaker Jason White and Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann both seem amenable to it. However, Gov. Tate Reeves remains opposed, so there is hope that legislators may go against his wishes. Medicaid expansion will boost health-care delivery and create more jobs for Mississippians.

Medicaid Expansion: An ‘Indispensable Economic Stabilizer’

There is a current crisis at rural hospitals. Uncompensated care burdens are gradually eroding these important community institutions. Hospitals now bear expenses as uninsured people seek essential care from them directly. Medicaid expansion acts as an indispensable economic stabilizer. A hospital with a strong bottom line is not just something to be proud of. This would also provide employment for nurses and doctors, as well as support staff and facility management.

Healthy hospitals can attract medical specialists, thus equalizing the quality of health care between those in urban centers and rural dwellers. When people know their health needs can be met regardless of their ZIP code, it becomes a crucial factor in attracting businesses and growing a vibrant workforce. This way, you bring wealthier employees into your community (and potentially new residents) while also enriching your tax base.

Jason White speaks from the podium at the Mississippi Capitol.
Mississippi House Speaker Jason White, pictured, authored H.B. 1725, a Medicaid expansion bill, along with coauthors Rep. Missy McGee, R-Hattiesburg, and Rep. Omeria Scott, D-Laurel. The House passed the bill by a 98-20 vote on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Medicaid expansion will also create more jobs for Mississippians. This would be an employment boom for our state. Beyond the projected 11,000 directly related health-care jobs, think of the multiplier effect. As doctors, nurses and medical professionals make decent salaries, their spending trickles throughout the surrounding communities. Buildings will need to be built because they will need more housing. These professionals will shop at local restaurants, frequent the businesses of their towns, and buy goods and services, thus fueling economic growth across different sectors. This is real job creation, not just a band-aid.

Medicaid expansion will provide sustainable jobs that raise families and empower entire communities. And in the future, when things are working out fine in Mississippi, we will have the resources and stability to tackle other long-standing challenges such as investing fully in education, workforce training and social programs to break the cycles of poverty and ensure all our citizens can thrive.

While Gov. Reeves and others against Medicaid expansion argue that they have no financial objection to it, his recent plan for more federal hospital funding shows otherwise. With the expansion of Medicaid, Mississippi could receive billions of dollars from the federal government. This number is not just a figure, but a real investment in our communities. This could mean renovating old infrastructure, such as highways and bridges across the state, to ensure safer transportation systems and reliable access to bridges for both Mississippi residents and businesses. It could also enhance our education sector for future generations, stimulating economic growth within our region.

The proposed expansion of Medicaid would offer solutions to the long-standing disparities in health care that have affected numerous individuals, marking a turning point in the history of Mississippi. This policy move is not only necessary; it speaks to humanity at large—what it means to represent each other and what it takes to support one another. However, expanding Medicaid does not stop at just providing healthcare, even though this alone is a good enough reason for doing so, especially when one considers those who are critically ill and require treatment as soon as possible before their condition becomes irreparable. It is also a powerhouse economically capable of remaking the future of our Magnolia state.

The moment demands bold action. Support the Medicaid expansion plan. Advocate, vote and elevate your voice. For the health and well-being of Mississippi and as a testament to our shared humanity, the time to act is unequivocally now.

This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an opinion for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and sources fact-checking the included information to We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.

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