JACKSON After weeks of dancing around the issue, Gov. Phil Bryant announced his intention to resist expanding the state's Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Bryant, a first-term Republican, said he would consider opting out of the expansion when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government couldn't withhold funds from states who declined to go along with the Medicaid overhaul the ACA calls for.
"No matter on what side of the political spectrum you align yourself, when you look at the bottom line of a potential Medicaid expansion in Mississippi, it is clear we cannot afford this enormous burden," Bryant wrote on his official state website Monday. "It would rob our resources for education, public safety and job creation and could very well result in tax increases."
Bryant dismissed the claims of expansion proponents who note the federal will government will pick of the tab for more than 90 percent of states adding more people to the Medicaid rolls.
"Since when did the federal government ever give free money without asking for something in return? After all, some people tend to forget the so-called 'free' money is actually your money," Bryant wrote.
Bryant's solution to the state's healthcare woes include job creation and individual responsibility. He writes:
"(E)ach of us must assume personal responsibility for our own health and our own choices. Living a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a proper diet can help shrink Mississippi’s obesity rate and the chronic diseases like diabetes that accompany it.
"Hazardous activities like smoking erode our health, and we must do all in our power to fight the epidemic of teen pregnancy—an issue that has far-reaching consequences for our state."