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Mississippi Hospital Association Backs Off Call For Full Medicaid Expansion

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 11 Mar 2013 04:40pm | comments

Mississippi Hospitals are backing away from their call for full Medicaid expansion. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports hospitals still insist they need something like Medicaid expansion or they would have to cut services or lay off staff.

Under the health care reform law, hospitals around Mississippi are set to lose millions of dollars in federal support for care they provide to people without insurance.

Claude Harbarger with the Mississippi Hospital Association says those cuts are already happening and Mississippi hospitals are feeling the pain.

"We must arrive at solutions in this calendar year, or we will face significant reductions in health care services in Mississippi," Harbarger said.

The Hospital Association met with Governor Phil Bryant last week to see if there is compromise short of full expansion...Neither the association or the Governor have made recommendations for such a plan, but state like Arkansas and Florida are floating partial expansion plans.

Until this point, hospitals have been vocal supporters of Medicaid expansion.

Chris Anderson, the CEO of Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula says Hospitals are in a bind because the money for caring for the uninsured is already going away.

"So unless the state finds some way to provide this expanded access that the Affordable Care Act contemplated, then we get this money taken but none comes back," Anderson said.

This is especially true for rural Hospitals that are in high demand but run a slim margin.

Lee McCall, the CEO of Winston Medical Center in Louisville says there are not many non-vital services he could cut to recover the loss from the federal government.

"We really don't have a lot of program that we can shut down. We can't close our emergency department. We can't close our hospital. We can't close our nursing home. So we would just have to do more with less and unfortunately there is just not a lot that we can do now," McCall said.

In a statement, Governor Bryant says he still opposes Medicaid expansion but appreciated the hospitals willingness to look for alternative options.

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