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Hospitals CEOs Warn Of Cost Of Not Expanding Medicaid

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 28 Jan 2013 01:53pm | comments
Marchand (left) and Anderson (right) at a senate committee hearing.

Some Mississippi Hospital administrators are calling on state lawmakers to expand the Medicaid program. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the hospitals are warning that they would have to lay off staff and reduce services if the program is not expanded.

The health care reform law gives states the option to expand Medicaid, while also reducing the amount that hospitals receive for providing uncompensated care to the uninsured.

Chris Anderson, the CEO of Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula says not expanding Medicaid could cost his hospital tens of millions of dollars a year.

"And I realize there are pros and cons and there is some cost, but if we do not expand we are taking tax payer dollars from Mississippi and sending it to other states. It is going to strengthen other health systems in other states rather than in Mississippi; already the poorest state in the country," Anderson said.

At some Mississippi hospitals one of three patients that enter are not able to pay.

Gary Marchand the CEO of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport says uncompensated care payments make up 7-percent of his total budget and losing that might mean staff layoffs or reducing the health care services his hospital offers.

"We are compassionate industry with doctors and nurses and therapist and we all put our hands on patients. And if they are not there then we have to care for patients differently or we have to care for fewer patients. That's the reality," Marchand said.

The reason the law calls for a reduction in uncompensated care payments is because it assumes more people will have insurance or receive Medicaid and reduce the need for those payments.

The Mississippi Hospital Association Vice President Gwen Combs says Medicaid makes up 16-percent of total hospital revenue and is crucial to providing health care in Mississippi.

"Some of them would have to make some business decisions about offering services any more. Some of them might have to stop offering inpatient site services for example. So those are business decisions that have to get made based on income streams," Combs says.

Leading Republican law makers in Mississippi have balked at expanding the program saying the cost, which is project to be more than one-billion dollars over ten years, is too high for the state to afford.

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Marchand (left) and Anderson (right) at a senate committee hearing.


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