Home State Wide Meet the six people negotiating a final Medicaid expansion bill at the Capitol 

Meet the six people negotiating a final Medicaid expansion bill at the Capitol 


The House and Senate can now begin negotiating ways to enact a law to expand Medicaid coverage to poor Mississippians after legislative leaders named the six people to hammer out a final plan.

House Speaker Jason White, R-West, recently appointed Republican Reps. Missy McGee of Hattiesburg, Sam Creekmore IV of New Albany and Joey Hood of Ackerman to be the House negotiators. 

Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann last week named Republican Sens. Kevin Blackwell of Southaven, Nicole Boyd of Oxford and Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula to represent the Senate in the deliberations.

The six conferees are all white Republicans, despite Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons, a Democrat from Greenville, recently calling on Hosemann to appoint a Democrat as a conferee. Two of the six conferees are women, but no Black lawmaker will have a seat at the negotiating table.  

The six members, called conferees, will attempt to forge an agreement over the different versions of the expansion plan that have passed the House and Senate. 

The House’s expansion plan aims to expand health care coverage to upwards of 200,000 Mississippians, and accept $1 billion a year in federal money to cover it, as most other states have done.

The Senate, on the other hand, wants a more restrictive program, to expand Medicaid to cover around 40,000 people, turn down the federal money, and require proof that recipients are working at least 30 hours a week. 

White previously told Mississippi Today in an interview that he is willing to compromise on a plan that fully covers people up to 138% of the federal poverty level, but he does not intend to agree to a plan that forgoes the full 90% matching rate from the federal government. 

“Look, at this point, if it makes sense, and when I say conservative, I mean from a dollars and cents standpoint,” White said of expansion. “I’m convinced, and health care professionals have convinced me, that this population, this is the way to cover these individuals.”

If the House and Senate conferees agree on a compromise, the final bill will go back before the two chambers for consideration. If lawmakers sign off on the plan, it will then go to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves who has privately threatened to veto any type of expansion bill. 

Here are the three House negotiators and three Senate negotiations who will soon begin meeting on a final Medicaid expansion bill.  

House conferees: 

Rep. Missy McGee, R-Hattiesburg: 

McGee is the chairwoman of the House Medicaid Committee and has been a champion of reforming the state’s Medicaid laws to provide more services to current Medicaid recipients and expanding coverage to more people. 

Earlier this year, she spearheaded legislation to allow pregnant women whose net family income is 194% or less of the federal poverty level to be presumed eligible for Medicaid and receive care before their Medicaid application is officially approved by the Mississippi Division of Medicaid. 

Even before White appointed her to lead the Medicaid committee, she successfully shepherded legislation through the Capitol that extended benefits for pregnant people on Medicaid that increased their timeline for receiving benefits from 60 days for a full year. 

Rep. Sam Creekmore IV, R-New Albany:

Creekmore is the chairman of the influential House Public Health Committee. While Creekmore’s committee does not necessarily have jurisdiction over Medicaid policy, his stance on the issue holds enormous sway over House colleagues and the state’s medical community. 

The son of a physician in rural northeast Mississippi, Creekmore has also been an early voice calling for lawmakers to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. He’s also advanced legislation to provide more mental health services to Mississippians. 

Rep. Joey Hood, R- Ackerman: 

Hood may be a somewhat unusual conferee because he is currently the chairman of the House Judiciary A Committee, a committee with jurisdiction over the state’s civil code. 

Hood, however, is a close ally of Speaker White’s and previously led the House Medicaid Committee during the last four-year term. Hood somewhat became the face of Medicaid policy stagnation during the last term because he called relatively few committee meetings and let numerous expansion bills die at his hands.

Hood last year, though, did allow McGee’s postpartum Medicaid bill to come up for a full vote on the House floor. Ironically, Hood will now have a hand in shaping the finalized Medicaid expansion bill that his House colleagues consider passing into law.  

Senate Conferees: 

Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven: 

Blackwell is the chairman of the Senate Medicaid Committee, who has advocated for a more strict Medicaid expansion plan. He has previously been opposed to Medicaid expansion, but has come around to adopting a hybrid model, similar to Arkansas’ expansion plan.

Blackwell has advocated for strict work requirements for Medicaid expansion recipients and advocated for a plan that only extends Medicaid coverage for 99% of the federal poverty level. 

The DeSoto County legislator has indicated the Senate may be unwilling to deviate from many of its hardline positions on expansion, so his voice during the conference process will be critical.  

Sen. Nicole Boyd, R-Oxford:  

Boyd is the vice chairman of the Senate Medicaid Committee. Though she’s only in her second term as a lawmaker, she has quickly cemented herself as a legislator who can usher substantive policies through the Capitol and broker deals with the House. 

She has previously led the debate on Medicaid reform bills in the Senate and could be crucial in navigating a potential impasse with House leadership over the ongoing Medicaid expansion legislation. 

Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula:   

Wiggins is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary A Committee, the committee that deals with the state’s civil statutes. A member of the Public Health Committee, the Jackson County lawmaker has been supportive of postpartum Medicaid extension and presumptive eligibility. 

During the debate over its expansion plan, Wiggins spoke out in favor of passing the Senate’s expansion plan and has pushed back on Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’ opposition to the legislation. 

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