Monday, April 14, 2014

State Auditor Stacey Pickering (R) releases report on rural hospitals; future "bleak"

A dozen days ago, State Auditor Stacey Pickering (R) released his office's report on the health of Mississippi's rural hospitals.  If you've been paying attention to this blog for the last 18 months or so, you won't be surprised at the findings in Pickering's report: those rural hospitals are dying on the vine.

You also won't be surprised as to the main reason the rural hospitals are suffering:  reductions in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to those hospitals under the Affordable Care Act.  

The Mississippi Business Journal published an article on this today worth reading.  In it, there are some pretty heavy predictions from Mendal Kemp, director of the Mississippi Hospital Association’s Center for Rural Health.  From the article:
Gov. Phil Bryant and legislative leaders refused the expansion knowing the risk of losing the money but have indicated they do not believe the federal government will ultimately remove the money. They cite the Obama administration’s two-year extension of a deadline to begin lowering the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments. 
Kemp and others say the threat of losing DSH payments is real and should be seen as a promise that the ACA requires the government to keep. 
“Year two is going to surprise a lot of folks,” says Kemp, referring to the end of the two-year extension of the close of the federal government’s 2015 fiscal year. 
“Without some help… I see the future looking very bleak.”
The only real question left isn't whether the federal government will follow through with DSH cuts. They will.  The question is will Mississippians re-elect politicians in 2015 who stubbornly refuse to accept repayment of our own tax dollars to protect our hospitals?

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