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Mississippi Health Care Faces ‘Looming Disaster,’ Medical Group Warns Lawmakers

Mississippi’s healthcare crisis is worsening and an overhaul of the state’s “current system of care is unmistakably essential,” a leading medical group warned hours before the State Legislature was set to begin its 2023 session at noon Monday.

“The lack of access to healthcare for many Mississippians is currently a crisis, not a new crisis, but one that has been fermenting — and is getting worse,” the Mississippi State Medical Association said in a press release this morning. “As hospitals close across Mississippi, access to life-saving medical care becomes a real threat to all Mississippi. While the debate rages on as to why our hospitals are closing, the immediate crisis progressively engulfs us.”

Across the state, several hospitals have closed or cut services in recent months. During a hearing with lawmakers in November, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Daniel Edney warned that 38% of Mississippi’s rural hospitals, or about 54%, could close. Mississippi is already the poorest state with some of the worst health outcomes, including during the pandemic.

“That is a situation that is intolerable from an economic standpoint — to lose 54% of our hospitals in the state — much less from an access to care perspective,” PBS reported Edney saying in November.

For years, health-care professionals, including those at MSMA, have said that the State’s refusal to expand Medicaid to more working Mississippians has contributed significantly to hospital closures. Medicaid expansion was part of former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, giving states funds to expand Medicaid access to people who make too much money for traditional Medicaid, but who do not earn enough to afford private insurance and are not eligible for ACA subsidies.

“Again, the healthcare crisis Mississippi now faces has been foreseeable for years and was indeed predicted,” MSMA said in its statement. “The fact is, there is a sizable gap that exists for working Mississippians who cannot afford private insurance, yet whose income is too much to qualify for Mississippi Medicaid. When these individuals need healthcare, hospitals are required to treat them regardless of their inability to pay. And because these individuals

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