An “epic battle” is under way over adding thousands of people to Mississippi’s Medicaid rolls under the Obamacare program — a move that would bring “dramatic tax increases, Draconian cuts in services” and “make it even more difficult for you to make a living and raise your children here,” the state’s governor, Phil Bryant, told members of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation at their annual meeting.

Mississippi’s agriculture industry “will be struggling because of the depth of added entitlement programs,” says Bryant, who has opposed the expansion of the health care program in the state.

At the same time, Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has proceeded with preliminary steps for an alternative option that would allow the state to operate its own health insurance exchange, saying it would offer the most control and flexibility. Governor Bryant opposes both Obamacare and a health insurance exchange.

With widespread attention in the media about the issue, he told the Farm Bureau group that the president’s program would expand Medicaid in Mississippi by nearly 350,000 recipients. “Add that to the 640,000 we now have on the Medicaid rolls and we’d have nearly a million Mississippians on Medicaid — one out of three citizens of our state.

“Politician after politician has said we can’t turn down that money, that the federal government promises to pay 100 percent the first two years. But we’ll have to take the responsibility after that, and I will tell you now: It will break this state. No money is free; we either have to manufacture it,  borrow it, or raise your taxes in Washington D.C.

“I’ve taken the position that we’re not going to expand Medicaid, that we’re going to try to make sure people have some responsibility, that we offer opportunities through employment.

“If we continue to expand entitlements such as Medicaid, what you have to pay in taxes will be so much it will make it even more difficult” for the state’s agriculture, Bryant says.