Editorial Roundup: Mississippi | SCT Online

Vicksburg Post. January 24, 2023.

Editorial: It’s simple – We need to address the state’s health crisis

If that’s what the majority of voters want, shouldn’t we be able to get it?

It’s a simple question with a complex answer, especially when it comes to Mississippi’s nearly 300,000 working poor without health insurance.

A poll released this week by Mississippi Today found that 80% of Mississippi residents, including 70% of Republicans, support Medicaid expansion in our state.

But our leaders — from Gov. Tate Reeves to most state legislators — are not doing so.

One of only 11 states not participating in Medicaid expansion, Mississippi turns away nearly $1 billion in federal funds each year that could be used to provide healthcare in one of the poorest states in the country.

And this stubborn refusal to expand a stigmatized program – one that admittedly has its shortcomings – leaves our state facing a financial and health crisis. Because hospitals are required to provide care regardless of a person’s ability to pay, Mississippi hospitals provided nearly $600 million in unpaid care in 2021, more than double what they provided in 2010. In an industry fraught with challenges, unpaid care combined with skyrocketing costs to create an almost insurmountable hurdle for healthcare providers. State health officials have warned that 38 hospitals across Mississippi — including some in the Delta, which are the only regional hospitals — are at risk of closing.

Some progress was made this week when Lt. gov. Delbert Hosemann proposed an $80 million grant program for rural hospitals threatened with closure. Hospitals that receive money would have to provide information about how many patients they have and what types of medical services they offer — data that the state could use in planning for the state’s health care industry.

But Hosemann also said Wednesday that he would not push for expanding Medicaid coverage to people in low-paying jobs who don’t offer private insurance — a position he shares with other Republican leaders, including Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip , Gunn reconciles.

state doctor dr. Dan Edney, a Vicksburg native like Hosemann, has also advocated for health care reform in Mississippi, saying in November that 54 percent of the state’s rural hospitals are at risk of closure.

If these hospitals have to close, we have twice failed to serve those most in need in our state. And that’s shameful, especially when it can be avoided.

The Mississippi State Medical Association and the Hospital Association have lobbied for a tasty compromise in this partisan legislative battle. Earlier this month, the MSMA addressed the so-called immediate crisis that is “increasingly engulfing us,” and offered suggestions for actions lawmakers could take in this session, from increasing Medicaid income eligibility to considering a model similar to in Arkansas, which would provide access care for working Mississippians through the purchase of state-funded private insurance for qualifying recipients to the restructuring of the statewide health care system.

The MSMA solutions are not the only ones offered, nor are they necessarily the right solution for all of Mississippi. The point is that the MSMA and others offer solutions and proposals that deserve serious consideration and action by the Legislature and consideration by the Governor.

Most of us in Mississippi see the need to expand health care for our working poor, regardless of our political beliefs, and we deserve state leaders who are willing to put partisan politics aside to focus on finding a viable and workable solution Find.

And while that may not be easy, it is absolutely necessary.


Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

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