Southern States Fail to Expand Medicaid 

By Consumers for Quality Care, on June 5, 2024

Southern States Fail to Expand Medicaid 

Despite renewed interest earlier in the year from southern U.S. states to expand Medicaid, states like Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi ended their state legislative sessions without doing so, according to NPR.  

Mississippi was one of ten states that opted again not to expand Medicaid coverage this year, even though a majority of Mississippians support the initiative. As recently as April, a bill backed by the House Speaker to extend coverage for 200,000 low-income children was making its way through the legislature. It passed the House early in the session with an overwhelming majority, 99 ayes to just 20 nays. Soon thereafter, the State Senate passed an amended version of the proposal. Supporters of Medicaid expansion were optimistic that both chambers would resolve their differences on the bill. But that optimism faded as the session came to an end last month without a deal to expand coverage.  

Medicaid expansion would go a long way to address the coverage gap currently affecting 74,000 Mississippi residents. These residents’ incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford private insurance. As a result, these consumers often go without health insurance and may skip or delay medical treatment for fear of incurring a bill they would be unable to pay.  

Alabama is facing a similar situation, where nearly 174,000 consumers would be covered if the state expands Medicaid. Regina Wagner, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama, says that Alabama residents support expanding Medicaid, but as in Mississippi, politics is clouding the judgement of state lawmakers. Still, she believes that there may be a path forward, “[i]f the pressure gets high enough and sentiment shifts.”  

Proponents of Medicaid expansion are looking to North Carolina as an example. The state recently passed expansion legislation, allowing 600,000 consumers to qualify. CQC encourages states across the country to expand access to care for Americans.