Lessons from voter ID law can drive healthcare reform legislation, lt. governor says: Opinion


In 2011, as your Secretary of State, when I proposed a new policy to protect your vote — and the integrity of our elections — I was told repeatedly that Mississippi’s newly enacted Voter ID law would not pass constitutional muster. The U.S. Department of Justice will single out Mississippi, they said, and they will sue in federal court to stop our Voter ID law.

These gloom and doom predictions never happened.

Instead, voters overwhelmingly supported the Voter ID measure on the ballot with 62 percent of the vote. Subsequently, I went to visit with lawyers at the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice to discuss how we were going to implement the Voter ID law.

Mississippi was never sued or stopped from bringing about real election integrity. Today, we have the strongest Voter ID law which has been successful in securing our elections and there has been no expensive lawsuits trying to stop us.

Now, as your Lt. Governor, I believe if approached the right way, we could have the same outcome with a plan to reform healthcare and extend coverage to thousands of working Mississippians.

This past legislative session, the final offer from the Senate, before talks broke down between the chambers, would have extended healthcare coverage to people making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level (less than $43,056 for a family of four) through a form of a hybrid plan utilized by other states and paid for by healthcare organizations.

The proposal also included a work requirement for anyone eligible for this type of healthcare coverage, with notable exceptions for people taking care of young children, students pursuing a higher degree or certificate, and others.

Since 2019, when I went on record as one of the first statewide Republicans who supported exploring healthcare reform options, I have been clear that in any proposal, I support a real work requirement.

With a labor force participation rate of 53.7 percent in Mississippi, the lowest in the country, it is important we incentivize and support people who get a job and provide for their families. A real work requirement provision in healthcare reform legislation is a bottom line for my fellow Republicans in the Senate too.

Some have labeled this position a poison pill for the program, but I could not disagree more.

In the final days of the legislative session, we received reliable word the federal government would look favorably upon our waiver request, including the work requirement, as part of the healthcare reform bill. Perhaps this is because so many other states are interested in amending their own waivers, to include a work requirement (such as Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina).

Just like with Voter ID, we already have a road map for approaching things differently and achieving a positive result.

Meanwhile, during this session, we provided historic, equitable funding for our public schools; allocated an additional $380 million for our roads and bridges; took steps to shore up our retirement system; and even provided better access to healthcare through other legislation like presumptive eligibility for pregnant women seeking Medicaid coverage.

It took the Senate fighting for three years to ensure the women received proper postpartum care coverage. I still believe we can work together to accomplish a long-term goal of healthcare reform to help working people of our state. This requires proposing commonsense legislation, which I believe must include a work requirement, crafted in a way which will make Mississippi a model for other states to follow.

Just like Voter ID, we have proven that Mississippi can think bigger and bolder about solutions to challenges facing our state. I am committed to making that happen in the future with healthcare reform legislation.

Delbert Hoseman is Mississippi’s lieutenant governor.


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