I know how important affordable health care is for all Mississippians, because it’s part of my family’s legacy. In 1924, my grandfather, Thomas J. Huddleston, Sr., started the first Black-owned hospital in Mississippi at the height of Jim Crow. Through ingenuity and hard work, for 50 years, the Afro-American Sons and Daughters Hospital served Black residents of Mississippi, many of which had few options for care. Within circumstances of poverty and discrimination, the Afro-American Sons and Daughters Hospital gave quality, affordable health care to thousands.
Following in the footsteps of my grandfather, I will work to guarantee all Mississippians access to quality and affordable health care — which is so desperately needed especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Too many Mississippians are getting crushed by the rising cost of premiums, copays, and prescription drugs. In the last decade, five rural hospitals have closed and hundreds of beds have been lost. Convenient and accessible health care remains limited for countless people, and for Black Mississippians, it’s even further out of reach.
That’s why my number one priority in the Senate will be to expand Medicaid. By failing to expand Medicaid, Mississippi has willingly rejected $11.1 billion in federal funds over the last decade. The revenue from expansion is needed now more than ever to undergird our rural hospitals, to fill the gap for uncompensated care, to address the long-term care crisis, and to be able to enroll an additional 210,000 uninsured Mississippians.
The best time to expand Medicaid was years ago, but Mississippi can no longer wait. We can’t hold Mississippi back any longer.