Gov. Bryant quietly in talks about a Medicaid expansion plan for Mississippi

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Rogelio V. Solis, Associated PressGov. Phil Bryant at the Mississippi Summit on Criminal Justice Reform in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. 
Despite longtime public opposition to the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Phil Bryant has quietly been working in recent months to bring one of the law’s central tenets, Medicaid expansion, to Mississippi, sources in the state’s health care industry tell Mississippi Today.
The efforts come amid a federal judge’s decision Friday to strike down the entire health care law; Bryant is one of 20 plaintiffs who sued the federal government, claiming the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. That ruling is expected to be appealed.
Over the last month, Bryant and senior aides in his office have spoken to health care industry executives about the details of a limited form of Medicaid expansion, similar to the 2015 plan then-Gov. Mike Pence oversaw in Indiana, according to multiple sources who have directly spoken to either the governor or his staff.
Expanding Medicaid would represent an about-face for Bryant, a tea-party Republican who has twice sued the federal government over aspects of the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, his first year as governor, Bryant wrote that he would “continue to resist the expansion of Medicaid and other aspects of the ACA that will have a negative impact on our State economy or its people.”
Contacted Wednesday, Bryant’s office downplayed his role in pursuing an expansion, saying the state’s powerful hospital lobby is spearheading the push.
“The Mississippi Hospital Association approaches the Office of the Governor each year with a new plan to expand Medicaid. We don’t expect this to be a part of our legislative agenda,” said Knox Graham, director of communications for the governor, in an email.
The Mississippi Hospital Association declined to speak to Mississippi Today for this story. When asked for further clarification, Graham said in an