It's a shame that we can't take care of our own.
The Mississippi House turned its back on thousands of working poor people in a divisive vote against a bill that would have expanded the state's Medicaid system, essentially once again turning down millions of dollars from the federal government.
Most Democrats voted for the expansion, most Republicans against it.
Gov. Phil Bryant and his Republican friends in the Legislature say the state cannot afford to expand the program. The state says about 644,000 people are on Medicaid and the House bill would have added 230,000 more.
As it stands if you make more than $5,500 a year, you aren't eligible. In Mississippi, a full-time minimum wage job pays a little more than $15,000.
How can we not afford to take care of these Mississippians -- even if it means an increase in taxes? It would be wonderful if we had higher-paying jobs that would lift these people out of poverty, but we don't.
We remain one of the poorest states in the nation, a fact that is easily forgotten on the more-prosperous Coast.
Every year, the state makes choices on how it will spend our money.
The needs are many. Some expenditures are essential.
Schools. Public safety. And public health.
We think everyone should be able to go to the doctor when they are ill or injured.
Medical care should be a right afforded to everyone in the state, but our state leaders continue to treat it as though it were a luxury, something that is nice if you can afford it.
For the state's lowest-wage workers, often the only way they can afford it is a trip to the emergency room, where they cannot be turned away regardless of their inability to pay.
And we all pay for that care, because the hospitals recoup it one way or another from those who can pay.
Emergency care is far more expensive than a trip to the doctor.
And the pile of unpaid bills is astounding. According to a recent survey of Mississippi hospitals by the Mississippi Hospital Association, about $2.5 billion worth of care is not paid for each year.
Our leaders need to make the tough decisions and make it a priority to find the money in the budget to pay our share of the cost, most of which will be paid with federal tax money.
This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board, which consists of President-Publisher Glen Nardi, Vice President and Executive Editor Stan Tiner, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Flora S. Point, Audience and Human Resources Director Wanda Howell, Marketing and Interactive Director John McFarland and Associate Editor Tony Biffle. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are their own