Mississippi hospitals’ financial crisis detailed in Senate hearing

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 8:24 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi hospitals are struggling financially, and the State Health Officer says it’s to a crisis point. That’s because it’s impacting access to care.

You’ve probably heard about the units closing and potential hospital closures in the Delta. However, the Mississippi Hospital Association notes that it’s not an isolated scenario.

“Many of our hospitals that are doing okay today are one decision away, or one turn away from going downhill,” said Mississippi Hospital Association President and CEO Tim Moore. “It’s that delicate right now. It shouldn’t be that way.”

The initial idea for this Senate hearing was a focus on the Delta, but the experts helped Public Health and Welfare chairman Sen. Hob Bryan realize it’s a statewide crisis.

“It’s estimated that 38 of our rural hospitals statewide are in danger of either immediate closure or closure in the near term,” said State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney, who says that equals more than half of the rural hospitals.

State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney describes the Delta as his most immediate concern.

“I’m looking at emerging healthcare deserts that are popping up and anticipate more popping up in the Delta,” added Edney.

The majority of Mississippians going to hospitals have either Medicare or Medicaid, and the hospital association says hospitals are being paid right at or right below costs for those services, despite the rising costs of providing the care. While lawmakers were given some options of how they could impact the financial situation, the Committee chairman made this note.

“In my opinion, what we need is somebody somewhere in state government, who is charged with the notion of figuring out in general terms, what do we want health care to look like, now?” asked Sen. Hob Bryan, chairman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare committee. “Five to ten years down the road? How can we bring that about? How do we plan for it?”

But get this.

“If we do something, and I’m certain that we all will, but if we do something, I think at the very least we’re going to be seeing what we’re already seeing,” noted Edney. “And that’s significant reduction of services.”

Lawmakers return to the Capitol on January 3 for the 2023 legislative session, when they will have the opportunity to file legislation related to potential solutions on the growing financial crisis for hospitals in the state.

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