Improving health care is now the No. 1 issue among Mississippi voters, and nearly two out of three voters want the State to expand Medicaid, a new Millsaps/Chism Strategies State of the State Survey found. In the pollster's past surveys, education and infrastructure topped the list, but in its January 2020 survey, 70% said they were worried about the cost of medical care for themselves and their families.
"This quarter's State of the State Survey informs us that Mississippians are worried about the availability, accessibility and affordability of health insurance and favor expanding Medicaid by a wide margin," Nathan R. Shrader, the chairman of the Department of Government and Politics at Millsaps College, said. If Mississippi accepted the more than $1 billion to pay to expand the health-care program for low-income people that the federal government has offered every year since 2013, as many as 300,000 state residents could gain coverage, studies show. Despite broad support for it, though, the politics have been fraught, in large part because the expansion is part of former President Barack Obama's 2019 Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Reeves Against Expansion, Lt. Gov. Hosemann For It
"I am opposed to Obamacare expansion in Mississippi. I am opposed to Obamacare expansion in Mississippi. I am opposed to Obamacare expansion in Mississippi," former Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican who then served as president of the Mississippi Senate, chanted at members of the press when they asked if he might support expanding Medicaid last January.
Now, Reeves is Mississippi's new governor after beating Democratic opponent Jim Hood by 5.5 points last November. Hood made Medicaid expansion a central issue of his campaign, pointing out that the State's refusal to expand the program had already forced several rural emergency rooms to close, including in his hometown of Houston, Miss. In the Republican primaries,