Barbour Says Everyone In Mississippi Has Access To Health Care — But 18% Are Uninsured

April 20, 2011 1:21 p.m.

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) says Mississippi doesn’t need Washington’s help with health care reform because “there’s nobody in Mississippi who does not have access to health care.”

“One of the great problems in the conversation is the misimpression that if you don’t have insurance, you don’t get health care,” Barbour said.Barbour was speaking with Christopher Rowland of the Boston Globe, who pointed out that about 18% of the state’s population lacks insurance, roughly half a million people. Rowland writes:

The Obama law will expand Medicaid eligibility to individuals making up to $14,400 or $29,300 for a family of four — 133 percent of the federal poverty limit.

An independent study the governor commissioned says the state’s share of expanding the Medicaid eligibility umbrella, while starting at zero, could climb to as much as $237 million a year by 2020 — when the state would have to start picking up 10 percent of the cost. Estimated total costs of the health overhaul, including administrative costs and the impact of new Medicaid enrollees who qualify now but have not signed up, will add $1 billion to $1.7 billion to the state budget by 2020, with the federal government kicking in up to $17 billion, the study said.

In an email to Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, a Barbour aide clarified that Barbour was talking about “emergency room procedures” when he said that everyone has access to health care. “The Governor is imminently aware the status quo is not optimal for Mississippians, as it’s neither cost effective nor does it address his preventative care concerns,” the aide said. “It’s for those reasons that Gov. Barbour has promoted the concept of a ‘medical home’ for Medicaid beneficiaries and has advocated for private market solutions.”

Barbour had elaborated on those “preventative care concerns” to the Globe. “Most of the health disparities in Mississippi are not because of the inability to get access or afford health care,” he said. “They are because of diet, alcohol, because of drugs, the very high incidence of illegitimacy that leads to high incidence of low-birth weight children.”

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