Mississippi Republican Delbert Hosemann will become the State’s most powerful official, the Associated Press projects, after winning Tuesday night’s election for Miss. lieutenant governor—a role that gives him not only executive powers but makes him president of the state senate where he will have significant say in which pieces of legislation live and die. Hosemann, a pro-public education republican who is skeptical of the state’s private school voucher system and also supports Medicaid expansion, will take over from his more conservative predecessor Tate Reeves in January.
For the past eight years Reeves opposed Medicaid expansion because it is part of former-President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 law, the Affordable Care Act. Hosemann, though, wants to accept over $1 billion in yearly funds from the federal government to expand access to the Medicaid program to more than 300,000 Mississippians in working households. Economists say it would create thousands of jobs and help save Mississippi’s rural hospitals half of which are in danger of closure. Since 2013, five rural emergency rooms have closed their doors, partly due to Republican leadership’s refusal to expand the program.