Greenwood Leflore Hospital administrators say a plan currently under consideration by Gov. Phil Bryant could mean the difference in the hospital’s continual financial struggle.

The governor has been presented with a plan engineered by the Mississippi Hospital Association that looks a lot like Medicaid expansion, except that participating hospitals would assume the cost of the program normally covered by the state. The hospital trade group has made it more palatable for the governor by naming it Mississippi Cares.

It would provide health insurance for almost 300,000 Mississippi adults who have no health insurance but aren’t eligible for Medicaid under current guidelines. Because hospitals are required by law to treat anyone who comes through the door, Mississippi Cares would provide it with some payment for services already being provided to those uninsured people.

“If you look at how much money we are not getting paid or reimbursed ... somebody has to subsidize us for that,” said the Greenwood hospital’s chief executive officer, Subho Basu. “We’re providing the services, and we’re not getting paid. It’s not really our fault or anyone’s fault. Just from that standpoint, any kind of assistance is always welcome.”

Richard Roberson, vice president of policy and state advocacy for the Mississippi Hospital Association, will discuss Mississippi Cares at the Greenwood Voters League meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Elks Hall on East Scott Street and Avenue F.

The proposal calls for a public-private partnership between the state, hospitals, a hospital-sponsored medical insurance program called Mississippi True and its plan members, the association said.

The plan calls for the uninsured to pay a minimal amount each month for insurance, perhaps as low as $20 per month with a $100 co-pay if they go to an emergency room for treatment of a non-emergency. Dental and vision benefits would also be included.

Hospitals would cover some of the premium cost, making up the needed 10% state share to attract the 90% federal share. No state general fund expenditures would be needed to fund the premiums.

People who would qualify for health insurance under the plan are non-disabled adults ages 19-64 earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, which would be $17,000 for an individual and $35,000 for a family of four.

Basu said he and Chief Financial Officer Dawne Holmes have been following the progress of the proposal as it has been presented to the governor, but they haven’t run specific numbers on what impact it would  have on Greenwood Leflore Hospital.

“It’s just a proposal,” he said. “What if the $20 becomes $17 or $25?”

He said the plan could call for the hospital to come up with a sum of money in the promise it would be reimbursed for services for a much larger amount.

Each month’s financial statement from the hospital indicates it is moving closer to the break-even point. In April, the hospital posted a loss of about $318,000, but that was less than half of the loss posted in the same month in 2018. So, it wouldn’t take much money from Mississippi Cares to push the hospital past the break-even point.

Other hospitals across the state are also struggling with unreimbursed costs associated with uninsured patients. The Hospital Association puts the total at $600 million in uncompensated care statewide.

Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or gmaliska@gwcommonwealth.com.

 

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