I want to say right from the start here that the Mississippi Hospital Association supports Medicaid expansion and we have consistently said we are for Medicaid expansion. Our support is required, first, because of the compassionate healing ministries we are charged with on behalf of those among us that we see and treat every day. But we also support expansion because of the financial realities our hospitals now face.
No matter what you think about Obamacare, the federal law—the law of the land--contains reimbursement cuts to Mississippi hospitals over the next 10 years. These cuts are hard-coded in federal law and they are not subject to administrative interpretation or wishful thinking. They will occur.
To put these cuts in perspective . . . Most recent cost reports reveal that 70 of Mississippi’s 106 acute care hospitals had a profit margin of less than 5 percent. Let me repeat that. . .70 of 106 hospitals had profit margins of 5 percent or less. The federal cuts we already know about represent a negative 11.5 percent of total Medicare fee-for-service-revenues to all hospitals in the state. And that number does not include the projected Medicare DSH cuts of over $663Million in Mississippi that begin October 1st. Those cuts do not include the $200 Million Mississippi hospitals will no longer receive in Medicaid DSH reimbursements, also beginning October 1st.
It’s been suggested by some that the state will somehow make hospitals “whole” for these cuts in federal reimbursements. Those who make that suggestion are unaware that the total cuts to Mississippi hospitals—again, cuts that are hard-coded in the federal law—total over $4.2 BILLION over the next 10 years. So it’s time we put that bit of “wishful thinking” behind us.
It’s time to put People over Politics.
The first people I want to talk about work in your community hospitals as nurses, janitors, managers, medical coders, and cafeteria workers. Many of them work in small, rural hospitals that are struggling to keep their doors open already, and they face potential lay-offs if we don’t expand Medicaid eligibility.
It’s time our public officials show they care about hospital employees who may be laid off. Please, put People over Politics and allow a vote on Medicaid eligibility expansion.
I’m also here today to tell you about people who do have health insurance. An American Academy of Actuaries study recently concluded the costs of private health insurance could rise in states that opt out of Medicaid expansion. According to an analysis from Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc., the associated costs to employers of not expanding Medicaid could total anywhere from $876 million to $1.3 billion in the 22 states that are either opting out or are leaning that way.
And apart from the cost of care, the most critical issue is access to care. The most critical issue is that when we cut hospital staff and hospital services, we are jeopardizing access to care for all Mississippians, whether on Medicaid or not, whether you have private insurance or not. Those services aren’t eliminated just for the uninsured, but for everyone.
People over Politics. . .People over Partisanship . . . People over Wishful Thinking.
To all of our elected officials I respectfully request: Please, on behalf of all of us who serve those who serve others—have a debate and vote on Medicaid expansion as soon as possible.