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Mississippi Voters Just Rejected ObamaCare Expansion

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Matthew Brown

Tuesday night, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion was on the ballot in Mississippi. And it lost.

The state has rightly declined to accept ObamaCare’s reckless expansion over the last eight years, since the Supreme Court put the decision into the hands of states. And this week, Mississippi voters reaffirmed their opposition by electing a new governor that stands with them.

In the race to be the next governor, current Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves (R) soundly defeated Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood (D). Arguably, expansion was a—if not the—defining issue of the campaign.

Hood made ObamaCare expansion a pillar of his platform. He said expansion—which he euphemistically referred to as “Medicaid reform”—would be “what’s best for the state” and claimed adding hundreds of thousands of able-bodied adults to welfare, to the tune of billions of dollars, would “create jobs,” even suggesting it would increase incomes.

He repeatedly blasted Reeves over his opposition to expansion, even composing an error-riddled “fact check” of Reeves’s anti-expansion comments that he posted on his website and plastered all over social media.

And, consistent with what’s been tried (and has failed) in other states, Hood resorted to tired scare tactics about how hospitals would shutter without ObamaCare expansion infused into the fabric of Mississippi.

Oddly, he cited Arkansas as a shining example of how great ObamaCare could be for hospitals—despite the fact that hospitals are still closing in Arkansas after nearly six full years of the program.

The bottom line is Jim Hood was all in on ObamaCare expansion. He made sure voters knew it and made it a core tenet of his campaign—and voters rejected it.

Governor-elect Reeves, on the other hand, ran staunchly opposed to expansion, drawing what local media described as a “hard line” on the issue very early in the campaign. He said, “I will remain opposed to any call for ObamaCare expansion, no matter what other name or what other form you want to call it.”

Reeves rightly cited the skyrocketing costs in states that have accepted ObamaCare’s expansion and concern that it would primarily help individuals with insurance, not the uninsured.

He was correct on both accounts: nearly two out of three potentially expansion-eligible Mississippians already have or have access to private insurance, and states that have expanded Medicaid have spent more than two and a half times what they said they would on the program.

Reeves also rightly expressed concern over the increase in dependency that ObamaCare would bring.

It’s clear, based on Tuesday night’s election results, that voters shared his concern.

A Reeves administration is good news for taxpayers and the truly needy both within and beyond the borders of the Magnolia State. Rejecting expansion means less national debt, less dependency, and more resources preserved for Americans that truly need Medicaid.

It’s also just plain smart. According to a new study from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), nearly a quarter of Mississippi’s budget is already consumed by Medicaid. That means roughly one out of every four dollars the state spends must go to Medicaid—and that’s without expansion. 

Imagine how much worse it could get if they open that door and allow hundreds of thousands of able-bodied, childless adults into the program.

Thankfully, Mississippi looks to be in good hands with a governor-elect that is committed to making sure that doesn’t happen.

Nic Horton is research director for the Foundation for Government Accountability.

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