Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Sid Salter: Gunn’s Successful Tenure as House Speaker Marked by Flag Change, Medicaid stance

 Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn’s GOP Caucus announcement that he was not seeking re-election in 2023 brings to a close a tenure as the state’s first Republican leader of the House of Representatives since Reconstruction.

The amiable but formidable Gunn’s service as speaker saw the undeniable progress of the state’s decision to leave the former state flag to history as the last state flag with Confederate symbols and the subsequent adoption of a new, more inclusive state flag not marked by racial controversy. Gunn played a meaningful, significant role in that arduous process.

The late Rep. Walter Sillers of Rosedale was the state’s longest-serving House speaker at 22 years from 1944 until he died in office in 1966. The late Rep. Tim Ford of Baldwyn served 16 years as speaker from 1988 to 2004. At the end of his current legislative term, Gunn will have served 12 years wielding the House gavel and will tie the late Rep. C.B. “Buddie” Newman of Valley Park as the third-longest serving House speaker in the state’s history.

In announcing his decision not to seek re-election, Gunn noted his willingness to consider other avenues of public service after his House tenure concludes. It would be surprising – whether by election or appointment - if Gunn doesn’t have that opportunity.

Gunn’s announcement was met with laudatory remarks from both Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and GOP Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. Gunn has been rumored as a possible challenger to Reeves, but neither Gunn’s statement nor Reeves’ response implied anything in that political direction.

But there is at least one issue on which Gunn’s legislative tenure was in conflict with most Democrats and no small number of Republicans – particularly those who lives in the orbits of struggling rural hospitals. Gunn has been a powerful opponent of Medicaid expansion in Mississippi – a stance that seemed to intensify as speculation about a Gunn gubernatorial bid intensified.


Mississippi is one of twelve remaining states that have not expanded Medicaid despite an increased federal match rate in which the state contributes 10 % to 9% federal funds under the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Delta Council, one of the state’s more mainstream conservative business groups, earlier this year unveiled a unanimous resolution endorsing Medicaid expansion in Mississippi. The resolution, adopted by the group’s Health and Education Committee, was clear and unequivocal in calling on lawmakers to act. Other powerful business groups are said to be formulating plans to join the Delta Council in that stance in the next year.

The Health Insurance Resource Center ( makes this argument in favor of Medicaid expansion in Mississippi: “From 2013 through 2022, Mississippi has given up $14.5 billion in federal funding that would otherwise have been available to the state to help provide medical care for low-income residents.

“And since residents in states not expanding Medicaid still have to pay federal taxes, Mississippi residents have been subsidizing Medicaid expansion in other states. Over a decade, people in Mississippi are paying $1.7 billion in federal taxes that are used to pay for Medicaid expansion in other states.”

Regardless of the partisan national political ebb and flow, Medicaid expansion remains a top-shelf issue in Mississippi based on the growing threat to the availability of health care. Rural hospitals like Greenwood Leflore Hospital are on the verge of closure in a Delta region that has already seen healthcare cutbacks and where poverty remains pervasive and pronounced.

A prior effort to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot died as a result of the state’s legally flawed ballot initiative process. But many legislators are quietly talking about a review of the status quo on Medicaid expansion.

Gunn lives in Clinton near the high-rise Jackson major medical centers. House Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White, R-West, is the acknowledged leading candidate to succeed Gunn as House Speaker in 2024. White lives about 17 miles from the hospital in Kosciusko and about 20 miles from the hospital in Lexington.

Along with groups like Delta Council, there are a lot of rural Mississippians concerned about the financial futures of their local hospitals – particularly in areas where the high rate of delivery of indigent care outweighs the ability of the facilities to profitably operate.

The other bipartisan realization is that it is difficult to locate new industrial prospects in areas that don’t have ready access for their workers to high-quality medical care.  

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at



Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Gunn’s legacy will be not allowing expansion of medicaid.

Anonymous said...

As usual the stance on Medicaid expansion in Mississippi comes down to WHO will actually benefit from federal funds. In Mississippi it's always US and THEM, a divided state. Sadly no state has more need, and a larger percentage of THEMS. Federal money would be welcome without question if it were subsidies for rich farmers or Ole Miss lawyers. Our conservative principles would suddenly disappear.

Anonymous said...

Can't fix rural population loss by propping up rural hospitals. Medicaid expansion won't magically make rural hospitals solvent.

The political heft of the Delta Council is a mere shadow of its former strength. How do I know? Bennie Thompson is still their wholly ineffective representative in D.C. and will remain so until he retires or passes.

Anonymous said...

Hope he runs for governor.

Anonymous said...

Medicaid expansion means what? I know families on Medicaid who have massive medical needs being covered. Is adding single adults to the rolls the issue. Since everything is done one size fits all, could be another benefit to those who want to avoid working for a paycheck, but under the table cash is welcomed. Been assisting a family on welfare, huge Medicaid users, starting to think I am an enabler.

Krusatyr said...

Better education is a precursor to better access to individual prosperity, which enables access to private group insurance which mitigates indigence which enables hospitals to be profitable.

Better education means Choice and Vouchers served up with gelding the teachers' unions who, BTW, are gelding little boys.

Medicaid doesn't pay enough for doctors and hospitals to cover their basic costs of operation, hence many doctors don't accept Medicaid.

Furthermore, do you really want pigressive federal bureaucrats to be empowered to incorporate their sick, twisted, marxist agenda into your healthcare, or would you prefer to continue to depend on the great health care that eminates from brilliant doctors and well equipped, well staffed hospitals?

So choose: behind one door is fascist Fauci, the Mengele of our era; behind the other is responsibility for one's own private based healthcare.

Kingfish said...

Except there are no teacher's unions in Mississippi.

Krusatyr said...

KF: NEA and MAE have membership and political power in MS public schools.

Anonymous said...

KF,you can't be factual or rational with a person who isn't.

We both know that Medicaid Expansion has actually can compared how the States who refused are faring compared to those States that didn't.
Not all costs outweigh benefits or the costs of making a dumb decision. And, sometimes,it's pay now or have it cost far,far more later.
I'd point out to Krushchev( oh Krustyr, that it's obvious he's never spent time with teachers or bothered to ask them a relevant question about their job.

Krusatyr said...

I spent enough time with teachers in Catholic schools to learn grammar and syntax. If English is your second language, I commend your progress.

My teaching experience, other than parenting several successful children, includes coaching a boys' soccer team that never lost a league game for two consecutive years. I taught them to enjoy fitness, tactics, skill development and winning.

JPS is a disaster.

Anonymous said...

We are in crisis mode, who really cares about a freaking flag!

Anonymous said...

To all arguing against Medicaid expansion: $14.5 billion in the past 10 years would have saved every rural hospital in Mississippi. We have an opportunity to pay 10 cents on the dollar which would help all remaining rural hospitals for years to come. As Sid argues, businesses/corporations are not going to invest in areas with poor healthcare. That is a fact.

As a lifelong conservative republican I say it is past time that Mississippi passes Medicaid expansion. We are literally funding the states that have. It is silly to leave money on the table when most states are making the most of it. Sometimes our principles get in the way of doing the fiscally smart thing.

Anonymous said...

Subsidies don't save dying rural businesses.

Anonymous said...

You don’t sounds like any “conservative republican” you sound like a tax and spend liberal democrat socialist! The places where hospitals are struggling are places full of obese welfare beneficiaries who sit on their asses watching TV and collecting a check. You just want more free shit for these unproductive dregs!

Krusatyr said...

12:59 sounds like an editor of an important print and online local newspaper who, in his dotage, has taken up a fetish for the Medicaid cause for ten or so years.

Despite his many years as a thinker, he has never considered that the Feds purpose is to use social spending programs as bait to get their talons around States' rights' balls and rip them right off!

Anonymous said...

Where’s all that business that was supposed to come flooding in when we changed that flag?

For the record, I believe that the confederacy was a scheme cooked up by European central bankers to force Lincoln to accept a European-controlled Central Bank. The European banking cabals wanted another “Bank of the United States” like Hamilton spearheaded, and Andrew Jackson later dissolved. They just barely funded the confederates using their plantations as collateral. Then when Lincoln needed to fund his war effort, the nation had to go into debt to the Europeans.

This is a cycle that has been rinsed and repeated over and over for centuries!

Anonymous said...

"We both know that Medicaid Expansion has actually can compared how the States who refused are faring compared to those States that didn't."

Next time, try it in English.....

Anonymous said...

10:56, you can thank spineless Phil Bryant for being too weak to have the State to takeover JPS.

Anonymous said...

1:58 Don't hate those people so much. Get to know a few of those "dregs". You might be surprised to know how much you have in common. You might even want to help a few of them! Well...probably not.

Catfish at Delta State in April is nice, but said...

It is actually laughable for Sid to use the "formidable" Delta Council as the base point to justify Medicaid Expansion. Delta Council used to be a major factor in all politics - nobody that even thought they were a somebody missed their annual meetings in April back in the 70s. And 80s. And 90s. But the Delta Council started sinking during the 90s as a political force, mired in conflict and questionable actions when they started moving into the medical sector moreso than the economic development and agricultral spokesperson for the once powerful Mississippi Delta. Its head at the time moved over from their traditional operations into the Delta Health Alliance - a branch that has sucked federal dollars into the supposed improvement of health care through their bureaucracy and questionable spending tactics over the past decade.

Not quite the base group (granted, it was just the sub-committee of the once powerful political organization that passed this resolution) that I would use as justification for this expansion of a federal program requiring more spending in our state - especially if the headline of the column was to discuss the retirement of the House Speaker.

Anonymous said...

Krusatyr said...
KF: NEA and MAE have membership and political power in MS public schools.

Membership? A small number. Predominantly democrats.

Power? Absolutely none! If you think so, state your case. Neither NEA nor MAE is a union in any rational sense of the word. Name one pillar of union membership offered by either. You can't.

Anonymous said...

Some of you seem twisted around the axle in your thought process.

On one hand you bemoan the lack of opportunity in the Delta and other rural areas. On the other, you moan about the need to pour federal money into those places to help folks stay there.

On one hand you preach about the need to provide medical services to the 'almost poor'. But on the other hand, you tell us the reason to expand Medicaid is to provide job opportunities at hospitals.

You mention folks leaving rural areas but then you want us to find ways to allow them to stay, in comfort.

Somethin' jess ain't rite when a state approaches 60-70% of its inhabitants dependent on federal aid. But I tend to forget that Mississippi, like some areas of Oklahoma, is nothing more than a reservation.

Anonymous said...


Bless your heart. Please do some research.

Krusatyr said...

MAE is a subsidiary of NEA, the biggest teachers' union in the country. Members are mostly democrat? No, really? Democrats and teachers'unions are like toes on the same stinky foot: inseparably bound in a fetid pursuit of marxist agenda and destruction of traditional family values.

Anonymous said...

I thought Obama promised Obamacare would provide health insurance to everyone no matter their income or if they had preexisting conditions? If that were true why are we pushing for Medicaid expansion and why are rural hospitals going broke? Facts are hard things to get around.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:47 - (Sigh) - krusatyr; Your last post does nothing to prove your false premise of 'teachers unions in MISSISSIPPI'. Again, name one thing Mississippi teachers, the several who are stupid enough to send dues money to NEA or MEA, gain in the form of union-type protection or representation or 'political power'. You can't.

Here is your earlier comment: "NEA and MAE have membership and political power in MS public schools".

That is an intentional falsehood on your part, otherwise known as a lie. But, as you said, your experience in education is limited to coaching a children's soccer team.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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