Medical Zones Proposal Passes

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If you ask Governor Phil Bryant, Mississippi is about to get a much needed shot in the arm.

"The gun has sounded, the race is on and we're drawing in jobs and investments in medical communities across Mississippi," said Bryant.

It's all thanks to the governor's works agenda which included a healthcare package for lawmakers to consider. Part of it was the Health Care Zone Act which sailed through both chambers.

"It's never been done before in the United States. It's brand new here. We think it'll create jobs and millions of dollars worth of investments in this industry of necessity that is the medical industry," said Bryant.

Under the act, medical zones will be set up across the state anchored by facilities with more than 375 hospital beds. By establishing a five mile radius around those facilities, the hope is to attract businesses within the medical industry. Those businesses would be required to make investments and create at least 25 new full time jobs.

Then they'd be eligible for tax breaks and state assistance for infrastructure. The senate even added a provision, allowing any three aligning counties to create their own medical zone. Bryant says calls are already coming in.

"They want to bring in medical manufacturing, they want to bring in medical service providers, equipment supply and warehousing systems into the medical zones," said Bryant.

"It's a win-win big time for the people of Mississippi," said Mississippi State Medical Association president, doctor Thomas Joiner.

Joiner says the medical profession already brings in billions of dollars a year to the state's economy. By adding medical zones, Joiner says the impact would be tremendous.

"The governor's forethought on this is just timeless. We are really getting ahead of the curve," said Joiner.

As medical zones become reality, Bryant says he'll continue to fight for what hasn't. A physician recruitment bill as well as a move to pump more money into the medical school, both flat lined in the legislature. To Bryant, it's an opportunity to become more aggressive in changing Mississippi's healthcare system.

Bryant is expected to sign the act into law as soon as it gets to his desk.