Open letter to Governor Phil Bryant
I’d like to ask you about two numbers that you may have calculated when you refused to accept expanded federal Medicaid coverage for Mississippi, coverage the state has paid for but will not receive a result of this refusal.
The first number: How many Mississippians did you estimate would die prematurely because they will not have the medical coverage Medicaid would have provided?
A recent Harvard University School of Public Health estimates state Medicaid expansion has saved one life for every 830 people enrolled in Massachusetts where the program has been in effect for several years. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated if Mississippi accepted expanded Medicaid that 231,000 Mississippi adults would be eligible to enroll.
If I do the math, it seems 278 Mississippians will die prematurely as a result of your Medicaid refusal. (This ignores tens of thousands of your constituents whose lives would be drastically improved with preventative medical care).
If some natural calamity claimed almost 300 Mississippians’ lives and injured thousands in a single incident, you would go immediately to the scene to ensure rescue efforts spared nothing to help those affected. But this calamity was created not by nature but by you.
As you may have calculated, it will be easy to avert the public’s attention because these deaths will be largely anonymous. No one will ring a bell on the town square when a victim of the Medicaid refusal dies. No casualty list will be posted in the papers to put names on the loss. You will not have to face the victims’ families to explain your actions.
Perhaps you have not considered the second number: How many deaths would be sufficiently horrendous for you to break free of Republican political calculations? These demand refusal of benefits that might save 278 Mississippi citizens who trust you as their governor to defend their interests, and lives, over your personal political ambitions.
What is that second number, governor?
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.