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GOP gov candidate Foster pushes a type of Medicaid expansion

January 8, 2019
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State Rep. Robert Foster, R-Hernando, speaks with reporters as he discusses his reasons for running for governor of Mississippi, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, at the state GOP headquarters in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Republican running for Mississippi governor is advocating a type of Medicaid expansion.

First-term state Rep. Robert Foster of Hernando said Tuesday he thinks working people added to Medicaid should be required to pay something for coverage. Mississippi would need federal permission for such a system.

“We need people to get a job and then give them a hand up rather than a handout,” Foster said.

He announced his candidacy last month and filed qualifying papers Tuesday at the state Republican headquarters. Second-term Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves of Flowood entered the governor’s race last week.

Candidates’ qualifying deadline is March 1. Party primaries are in August, and the general election is in November. Gov. Phil Bryant term-limited and can’t run.

Democrats who have announced as candidates for governor are fourth-term Attorney General Jim Hood of Houston and retired Jackson State University employee Velesha P. Williams of Flora.

Bryant and other top Mississippi Republicans have opposed expanding Medicaid, a government health insurance for the needy, aged, blind and disabled and for people with disabilities.

The federal government pays most of the expenses for Medicaid, and states pay the balance. Because Mississippi is among the poorest states, the federal government pays for about 75 percent of Medicaid costs in the state.

Mississippi has nearly 3 million residents, and the state’s Medicaid enrollment in November was nearly 672,900.

Under the federal health overhaul that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, states had the option of expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income adults. The federal government paid the full tab in expansion states in early years and now pays 90 percent of those costs.

Mississippi is among the 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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