A bill to force publicly owned hospitals in Mississippi to comply with state open meeting laws is moving to the Mississippi House. The bill grew out of a massive pension scandal at a south Mississippi hospital....
In 2009, Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula stopped funding its portion of their employee's pension plan....and didn't tell anyone until late last year.
When the news finally broke, the hospital revealed it was hundreds of millions of dollars behind and might end its plan.
Senator Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula says this all happened because Singing River, like all 63 community hospital in the state, has been operating in the dark.
He says Senate bill 24-07, which passed yesterday, would fix that by forcing hospitals to comply with the same open meeting laws that govern most public entities.
"Singing River is an example of what can happen with non-transparency. We don't want it to happen to people but the fact of the matter is it did," Wiggins said.
Singing River is the most high profile but not the only example of critical information about hospitals staying hidden until the last moment.
Speaking from the floor, Senator David Jordan of Greenwood says a planned sale of his hospital was halted only after public backlash when the deal was announced.
"But they hadn't had a public hearing. When a public hearing to place the public said 'no!' and many doctors on that staff said no as well," Jordan said.
The bill would not make any medical records available to the public.
It moves to the House for more work.