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Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant Opposes Medicaid Expansion In Case Obamacare Is Repealed

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AP Photo / Rogelio V. Solis

“For us to enter into an expansion program would be a fool's errand," he told the Associated Press in an interview. "I mean, here we would be saying to 300,000 Mississippians, ‘We're going to provide Medicaid coverage to you,' and then the federal government through Congress or through the Senate, would do away with or alter the Affordable Care Act, and then we have no way to pay that. We have no way to continue the coverage."

It's a novel argument based on an unrealistic hypothetical. GOP efforts to repeal or dismantle the core components of Obamacare have repeatedly failed. Some Republican governors who have rejected the expansion have suggested that the federal government won't ultimately provide the funds the law requires it to.

Bryant also responded to an argument by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican who adopted the expansion, that turning it down would harm hospitals by raising the cost of uncompensated care.

"I don't question Jan Brewer's logic," he told the AP. "She can do what she wants to do in Arizona. But I don't believe you ever turn that back. I think she is going to bear the burden of those costs if that does occur. I wish her well with that. We just disagree on that."

Some five million Americans won't get Medicaid coverage because of decisions by their governors not to adopt the expansion under Obamacare, which the Supreme Court made optional. It covers residents up to 133 percent of the poverty line. Politics aside, it's a lucrative deal: the federal government is required to pay the full cost for the first three years and 90 percent thereafter.

In Mississippi, about 137,800 uninsured residents will miss out on Medicaid coverage due to the state's decision, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.