Going the extra mile to save Medicaid in Mississippi

The House late Sunday chose not to consider a Senate plan supporters say could generate up to 240 (m) million dollars for the nearly bankrupt Medicaid program by borrowing against the state's future tobacco payments. Instead, the House approved a House bill that would borrow 240 (m) million dollars from the tobacco trust fund and repay it over a period of seven years. Appropriations Chairman Johnny Stringer says the state would pay five percent interest. The annual payments would be 38 (m) million dollars a year. The money would come from half of the state's two percent set-aside. The set-aside is money the state doesn't appropriate each year. Lawmakers worked through the weekend in a special session called by Governor Haley Barbour to address Medicaid's 268 (m) million dollar deficit for the fiscal year that ends June 30th. The special session was underway in the midst of the Legislature's regular three-month session. Under the Senate plan the state could borrow against part of the future settlement payments from the tobacco lawsuit. The state would repay 20 (m) million dollars a year over 20 years - a total of 400 (m) million dollars.