Medicaid expansion discussions return as Mississippi hospitals face financial struggles

Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 7:17 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - More Mississippi organizations have come out in favor of Medicaid expansion in recent months. But state leaders haven’t shown any interest in changing course.

Still, it’s part of conversations on how to keep hospitals up and running.

It’s not a new explanation about why the Mississippi Hospital Association believes Medicaid expansion is needed for the healthcare system to thrive.

“The challenge is simply the revenue,” described Richard Roberson, Mississippi Hospital Association General Counsel and Vice President of Policy and State Advocacy. “And when you’ve got 10 to 15 percent of your patients on average across the industry, showing up with no ability to pay that eventually wears you down and you just you don’t have the resource to continue.”

But what is new? The lack of expansion is among the reasons listed by Singing River Hospital about challenges they’re facing and why they’re looking to be put up for sale. In the Delta, Greenwood-LeFlore hospital is looking to merge into a large heath system in order to survive. Their CEO resigning Friday. MHA’s Richard Roberson explained that for many systems it’s been a slow process of financial losses that accumulate over time.

“Where do you find additional revenue to help cover those costs?” Roberson asked. “It was already bad before COVID. Some of the financing that they were able to get from the federal government and from the state did help bridge some of that during the pandemic. But now we’re, we’re kind of pivoting to a post-pandemic world. And all those challenges are back, and the cost of even going up higher than they were two years ago. So that’s, that’s creating just a really, really difficult situation for the hospitals.”

The hospital association is hoping state leaders will be more willing to consider options moving forward.

“It just begs the question as to why aren’t we doing this?” asked Roberson. “It’s no different than asking for federal assistance after a disaster. We asked for federal assistance for a number of things. This is an option that the federal government has made available to the state of Mississippi and unfortunately, you know, our taxpayer dollars should go into.”

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