Because of state’s health care issues, future does not look promising

Published 1:09 pm Saturday, August 26, 2023

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To the editor:

The editorial in The Natchez Democrat of Aug. 13 was a bold challenge to our elected officials (mainly at the state level) to face and address the cruel reality that Mississippi continues to have the dubious reputation of being the unhealthiest state in the entire country.

The Magnolia State is last in the best and worst in the first measures of health care quality of life of its citizens.

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Mississippi ranks at the bottom for infant mortality (as your spot on editorial claims), which is directly attributed to inequitable access to comprehensive health care and racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of that care by the state’s medical “non-system.”

A recent report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private and respected research foundation, ranked Mississippi as one of the worst states for ALL of the health categories and that the state has a series of “maternity care deserts” due to the lack of insurance coverage as a major contributing factor to these problems.

Mississippi has the lowest life expectations of all its citizens and the highest infant death rates. The problems can be directly attributed to the Legislature’s failure to adequately fund the State Department of Health but most importantly to its reluctance to expand Medicaid for the working poor, which most progressive Southern states have done.

With a radical ban of abortion, a crumbling health care system and rural hospitals in dire straights (many are closing…is Merit Health Natchez next?), the future of “The Magnolia State” does not look promising, regardless of what our State Secretary of State, the Hon. Michael Watson, claimed in his June 9 Top of the Morning that “Mississippi is Thriving and We Need Your Help in Telling our Story.”

We all know that local newspapers are also in dire straights and hopefully The Natchez Democrat will be able to avoid those trends that contribute to their shuttering.

The paper is and will continue to be a valuable asset to Natchez and the Miss-Lou. Onward & Upward!

Mike Gemmell