Healthcare is important to communities

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 2, 2018

In the Thursday edition of The Natchez Democrat, I read your “Other Opinion” column featuring an editorial from the Northeast Mississippi Journal (Tupelo) that told of some state elected officials, running for reelection, attending a conference on problems facing rural counties.

According to the editorial, topics discussed “centered on the need for jobs, improved internet capabilities and workforce training.”

It lauded the discussion of these topics but honed in on one, in particular: high speed internet “that can do so much to level the playing field and promote employment opportunities in the global economy.”

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The editorial then opined that the conference “hit on a conversation state leaders must continue to have…”

Well said, but states or rural counties cannot compete or stay “competitive in a changing world” without available medical care for the their residents, in general and functioning hospitals, in particular.

At the weekly Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday, the speaker was Mike Chaney Mississippi’s Insurance Commissioner.

He was very impressive and frank with the Rotarians by pointing out that the state faces a major crisis in the closing of five rural hospitals.

The culprit, primarily, was the lack of funds to cover uncompensated care to patients without insurance or Medicaid eligibility.

He warned that more may be on the way to closure ( i.e., three in North Mississippi have filed for bankruptcy).

He also claimed, rightly, that the prospects of new companies locating in areas facing limited or non-existent medical care and hospitalization services are very dim.

Most observers of this industry claim that Mississippi’s rural hospital dilemma could have been avoided only if current state elected officials would have agreed to take advantage of the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA).

Billions of dollars were literally “left on the table” — federal funds that would have solved many financial problems facing all Mississippi hospitals.

Not only jobs would have been saved but suffering abated and illnesses of deserving poor of thousands of Mississippians treated.

Thanks to Commissioner Chaney for putting the interests of Mississippians first regardless of politics.

A recent Millsaps College poll found that the majority of Mississippians favor Medicaid expansion. For the sake of the state’s economic, social and overall well-being, it must be done.

Mike Gemmell,

Natchez resident