Obamacare's Medicaid Expansion Won't Work for Mississippi, Governor Says

By Susan Jones | October 2, 2012 | 7:24 AM EDT

Miss. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Phil Bryant, the Republican governor of Mississippi, says he will resist any effort to expand Medicaid in his state -- something the U.S. Supreme Court gave states the right to do.

In an op-ed in the Washington Times,  Bryant said it's a question of where his state would get the money to pay for more and more people on Medicaid:

"Do we drain money from public safety and education? Do we tax money out of private revenues and family checking accounts? As governor, I say we reject the expansion and find a better solution."

Bryant says rather than add an estimated 400,000 people to Mississippi's Medicaid rolls -- something that could put 1 in 3 Mississippians on Medicaid at an additional cost of $1.6 billion over seven years -- Bryant said he would rather see those 1 in 3 earn health care coverage through good-paying jobs in the state.

"How much better off are we really if 1 in 3 can charge health care expenses to Medicaid but we cannot afford to fund our schools or make the infrastructure improvements that attract businesses and jobs?" Bryant asked.

Bryant said the "real solutions" to improving health care begin with each individual:

"To start, each of us must assume personal responsibility for our own health and our own choices,” he wrote. “Living a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a proper diet can help shrink Mississippi’s obesity rate and the chronic diseases such as diabetes that accompany it. Hazardous activities such as smoking erode our health, and as governor, I am leading the fight to end the multiconsequential epidemic of teen pregnancy in Mississippi."

In addition to personal responsibility he called for job creation: "We must continue working, as we did during the 2012 legislative session, to create an environment where businesses flourish so Mississippians can secure sound employment and fund their own health insurance."

“Mississippi can and will do better,” Bryant concluded. “As governor, I will fight to protect our future — our education, our safety and our jobs — and that means that I will resist any effort to expand Medicaid in this state.”