Barbour: High-risk pools make case for Medicaid flexibility

Barbour, speaking after a National Governors Association healthcare meeting Sunday, said 3,500 people in his state signed up for a high-risk pool that predates his term as governor.

“We’re 1 percent of the population and we have a fourth of all the people they’ve signed up nationally for their program,” Barbour said.

Just dozens in Mississippi have signed up for the federal high-risk pool since opening last summer, Barbour said.

Barbour and other Republican governors on Sunday urged the federal government to provide more leeway to cash-strapped states to run Medicaid programs. They are floating Medicaid block grants, rather than a federal matching system, as a preferred method.

“The idea that the federal government knows better is dispelled just by looking at the high-risk pool,” Barbour said. 

The Department of Health and Human Services has defended the low enrollment figures in the high-risk pool, saying that federal healthcare programs are typically slow to gain momentum out of the gate.