Jim Hood believes that every Mississippian should have the same access to healthcare. Now, more than hundreds of thousands of Mississippians are without healthcare and Mississippi’s been shortchanged more than $5 billion simply because of petty, partisan politics. As a result, five rural hospitals in Mississippi have closed, and nearly half are at risk. We must finally come together and do what’s best for the state by accepting more than $1 billion per year from the federal government to extend health coverage to more Mississippians. Doing so will help keep our rural hospitals open and reduce the more than $600 million per year in losses that hospitals have been forced to absorb.
Increasing healthcare coverage. In Mississippi, around 300,000 adults would benefit from reforming Medicaid—nearly 100,000 of those individuals live in poverty without health insurance. When they need healthcare, they often go to emergency rooms instead of primary care physicians. As a result, hospitals provide healthcare services at no charge to the patients, absorbing most costs and putting themselves at financial risk.
Mississippi can change this cycle by reforming our Medicaid program and extending health coverage to eligible Mississippians. The federal government will give Mississippi more than $1 billion per year to increase the eligibility for Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of three, this amounts to an income of $28,676 per year or $16,753 for an individual.
Keeping our rural hospitals open. As a result of uninsured Mississippians receiving primary healthcare through emergency room visits, our hospitals are struggling. Uncompensated care costs hospitals more than $600 million annually. Since 2013, five rural hospitals have shut their doors due to these staggering figures. A recent independent study shows nearly half of Mississippi’s rural hospitals are at risk of closure. We can improve the financial stability of hospitals by increasing Medicaid eligibility limits and health coverage, thereby providing hospitals with reimbursements through Medicaid.
Improving outcomes. Various studies have shown the positive impact of accepting federal healthcare aid. In rural state’s that have accepted these federal funds, more patients received asthma treatments, gained control of their blood pressure, and received appropriate weight screenings and follow ups. Extending health coverage to eligible individuals has also helped combat the opioid crisis by increasing access to opioid addiction therapies. In Mississippi, 14.2 percent of adults have diabetes, costing the state about $3.4 billion each year. States that accepted federal funding to increase health coverage saw prescriptions for diabetes medications filled at increased rates.
Growing Mississippi’s economy. Not only will Jim Hood’s plan improve health outcomes in Mississippi, it will grow the economy. Studies have indicated Mississippi can expect to see anywhere from 8,000 to 19,000 jobs created from accepting federal healthcare aid. One full year after Louisiana did so, it saw an increase of $3.48 billion in business activity, a $1.1 billion boost to personal income, and $177.8 million in additional state and local tax receipts. In Mississippi, studies indicate the state could see additional revenue anywhere from $48 million to $105 million per year. In many rural communities across Mississippi, healthcare jobs are some of the best paying in the area. We must do everything we can to leverage healthcare as an economic driver in Mississippi.
Eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse. In 2015 alone, improper payments resulting from fraud, waste, and abuse cost states $29 billion. As governor, Jim Hood will focus on embracing and improving upon best practices to detect fraud and save Mississippi money through methods such as: provider screening; prior authorization and pre-payment reviews; and post-payment review and recovery. Additionally, Hood will build upon his success as attorney general in combatting elder abuse and working with Medicaid’s Program Integrity Unit to identify fraud in healthcare benefits programs.
Improving rural healthcare access. In Mississippi, there are 64.4 primary physicians for every 100,000 residents—far below the 90.8 national median. Jim Hood will support efforts to increase funding for scholarship opportunities for medical students committing to practice in rural communities after graduation, as well as expanding telemedicine across Mississippi.
Jim Hood is putting Mississippi families first!