TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- State lawmakers are headed to Jackson to take part in a hearing Monday on whether or not to expand Medicaid in Mississippi.
But an expansion, say many Republicans, would cost the state too much money while Democrats are saying the expansion would add jobs.
Representatives Steve Holland and Randy Boyd feel strongly about the Medicaid expansion issue.
Both will be in Jackson Monday to hear the pros and cons of why the state should or should not provide health coverage to an estimated 300,000, mainly low-income Mississippians.
Holland said there is no reason why Mississippi should not expand Medicaid, which is an option under what's known as Obamacare. Holland says the federal government would pay for the expansion for three years at 100 percent.
He adds that if the state does not do it, then hospitals will lose millions of dollars as well.
"About $270 million lost to all of our hospitals combined around the state if we don't do it," said Holland, D-Plantersville. "The whole program in the third year, fourth year is not going to cost us but $140 million. We've given $140 million tax break already this year to big corporations. 'Bah humbug' on what it's costing. We just want this hearing to hopefully settle all these nerves and get all the facts out there so we can make an intelligent decision."
Not so fast, say a majority of state Republicans who echo Gov. Phil Bryant's belief that the program will simply cost too much for the federal government to maintain.
"There will be federal dollars available for the first three years," said Rep. Randy Boyd, R-Mantachie. "But we've got a federal government that's $17 billion in debt. How much can we count on them to fulfill the obligations that they have? They may be at a point where they cannot do some things that they promised us to do. Once you put people on a program, its awfully hard to back them off because they begin to be dependent on that program and feel like that's a necessity for them."
Both men say there are many more options from both sides of the table to be discussed.
As far as who wins the debate, Mississippians will find out fairly soon.
About 640,000 people are currently receiving Medicaid coverage in Mississippi.