Mississippi physicians say health care crisis ‘engulfs us,’ urge action
As emergency federal pandemic funds for hospitals are dwindling, the health care crisis in Mississippi is progressing, according to a statement put out Tuesday by the Mississippi State Medical Association. The physicians group is calling on lawmakers and state leaders to act quickly to offset the burden of hospitals in the state caring for uninsured patients. Mississippi, one of only 11 states not to expand Medicaid and provide health insurance for hundreds of thousands of residents, has one of the highest rates of uninsured people in the nation. When hospitals care for these individuals, they are not reimbursed by any insurance company and incur a deficit referred to as “uncompensated care.” In 2021, hospitals statewide sustained almost $600 million in uncompensated care costs, according to the Mississippi Hospital Association. That is almost double the amount from 2010. The statement from MSMA referred to hospitals on the brink of closure and the coverage gap created by the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid. “The fact is there is a sizable gap that exists for working Mississippians who cannot afford private health 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 ability to pay … Such an economic strain on hospitals is one that even the most successful private business could not endure,” the MSMA opinion stated.