Hospitals in Mississippi are struggling to maintain operations. Lawmakers are debating how investments can be made to save rural healthcare.
Hospitals in Mississippi risk closure and state officials debate Medicaid expansion
The only neonatal intensive care unit in the Delta has recently closed, and the Greenwood Leflore Hospital is expected to close in the coming months according to state officials. During the state’s annual Hobnob event hosted by the Mississippi Economic Council, Governor Tate Reeves shared that he does not intend to expand Medicaid, which many doctors say would help keep their practice financially stable.
“One of the things that the state of Mississippi can do,” says Reeves, “The certificate of need policies have curtailed competition in the healthcare area. Competition tends to drive down costs, and we have policies in place both legislatively and administrative policies at the Department of Health that tend to crowd out competition.”
Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says the state should invest in Medicaid expansion. But, he thinks it may be too late.
“I’m not sure it would work today because it’s only got a three-year life left on the expansion part. In 2025, all the people that have been put on under the expansion will be taken off and you’ve got to find a new home for them. Unless the Feds change the program,” says Chaney. “It depends on who controls the election, who controls the administration. I don’t know.”
Chaney also shared his frustrations about the financial dispute between Blue Cross Blue Shield and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, saying both parties are wrong and should seek a working partnership. He says the medical center is entering another negotiation with a Medicaid health plan provider.
“If they do not get a 15% increase from that carrier, they will possibly remove 100,000 children and Medicare recipients from the roles December the 31st this year,” says Chaney, later clarifying he meant to say Medicaid during his speech.
According to the medical center, this is part of a routine engagement “necessary to ensure contracts meet the needs of our patients who are health plan members.” and says the ongoing conversations with the provider are normal.