The future of Mississippi’s health care is not certain.
It’s an issue that has many facets, and everyone will likely be affected by the Affordable Healthcare Act whether it be negative or positive.
Tim Moore, Vice President for Community Hospitals with the North Mississippi Health Services attempted to shed some light on the impact of AFA and the issue of Medicaid expansion at the Thursday meeting of the West Point Rotary Club.
“When we talk about Medicaid expansion and the ways that hospitals are funded, it’s a very complicated matter,” Moore began.
The state capitol has been buzzing since the start of the new year with a plethora of controversial laws, but those were perhaps overshadowed by the battle over the healthcare exchange Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney attempted to set up to comply with AFA last month.
Gov. Phil Bryant denounced Chaney’s attempts to comply publicly. Both are Republicans, but the divisive and public nature of the battle led the Department of Human Services to reject the exchange according to Moore.
“We were the first state to be denied an opportunity for a healthcare exchange,” Moore said. “Their (DHS) position was that if we don’t have the support of the man who is calling the shots, it will never work anyway.”
Bryant’s opposition to the exchange originates from a general opposition to the AFA, but Moore and others like him say that the state will have the required exchange, whether it be ours or one run by the federal government.
Moore says that the economic investment in the type of exchange proposed by Chaney is far less than investments that have been supported by Republican governors and lawmakers in the state for years.
Moore says that the exchange stands to create around 9,000 jobs in the healthcare service sector with an investment of around $17,000 per job from the state.
“I think we put a little more than that into Nissan,” Moore said of the past Republican-supported Canton plant which required an investment of around $84,000 per job.
“There are economic development issues,” Moore said. “We brought Nissan and Toyota to this state, and it’s the same thing here. It’s about the elimination of jobs or the increase of jobs.”
Many Republicans supported Chaney because of the reality of the impending exchange system. However, many conservatives still do not like the AFA or the exchange idea.
The AFA, according to Moore, has many more complicated issues surrounding it like the loss of revenues for hospitals compounded by the increase in the number of participants on Medicaid the law will bring.
Moore says the state stands to see a 56 percent increase in the number of insured individuals versus a 75 percent reduction in subsidies to hospitals.
“When you talk about Medicaid expansion, you’re not talking about adding new entitlement programs to the system,” Moore said. “You’re talking about replacing the existing entitlement program.
Right now, as the state legislators work out the budget, Medicaid expansion is a hot topic, and it will likely remain so until the end of the current session.
Moore was the guest of Rotarian James Hahn.