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Hospital CEO: Medicaid Expansion Needed To Maintain Services

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 04 Mar 2013 05:58pm | comments
CEO Stansel Harvey

The Mississippi Medicaid program is facing another crucial deadline. Today is the deadline for a house committee to take action on a bill to keep the Medicaid program alive. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports Mississippi hospitals are increasing their calls for lawmakers to not only re-new and expand Medicaid.

State lawmakers are in the middle of a back and forth fight over whether or not to expand Medicaid to cover an additional 300-thousand poor Mississippians.

While looking at a whiteboard with the finances of Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville, hospital CEO Stansel Harvey says expansion is necessary to keep his hospital operating.

"So us a regional hospital, largest hospital in the delta, this kind of significant reduction is going to severely impact the health care delivery system not only in Washington County but in the majority of the delta," Harvey said.

Harvey is skeptical of the health care reform law which allows for the expansion but is clear that the reductions in payments included in the law and under the recent federal budget cut will be more than the hospital can bear.

"We are looking at being down 6.6-million dollars. And you look at the profit last year. You look at the history of our profit. We are going to have to decrease services. We won't close but what will happen is Delta Regional as you see it right now is going to have to change," Harvey said.

Some of those changes could be a rolling back what services the hospital provides or laying off staff.

Governor Phil Bryant has been an outspoken opponent of Medicaid expansion and recently sent a strongly worded letter to the Mississippi Hospital Association opposing it.

In the letter, the Governor accused the association of 'political shenanigans' by working with state democrats to expand Medicaid while holding the whole program 'hostage'.

Greenville's mayor John Cox is closely watching what happens with the hospital that he considers a vital part of his town.

"I think it would be unimaginable to have a hospital the size of delta regional suddenly evaporate or even become smaller because they do service a wide area of this community with many, many illnesses. And you think about that type of thing and then were would the people go?" Cox said.

The political football could ultimately be kicked back to the Governor who has the power to call a special session on Medicaid if all other legislative options fail.

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CEO Stansel Harvey


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