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Forrest General becomes latest hospital to leave Mississippi Hospital Association

Forrest General Hospital
Photo courtesy of Forrest General Hospital

Yet another hospital has decided to terminate its membership with the Mississippi Hospital Association.

First reported by the Magnolia Tribune on Tuesday morning, Forrest General Hospital has joined the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Singing River Health System, Memorial Health System, and George Regional Health System in leaving the association over leadership concerns.

Forrest General, which is headquartered in Hattiesburg, serves 16 counties across south Mississippi. The hospital’s president and CEO, R. Andy Woodard, sent the following letter to the MHA on Monday:

“I wish to formally notify the Mississippi Hospital Association (“MHA”) of Forrest General Hospital’s (“FGH”) termination of MHA membership. In light of recent events, and after careful thought and consideration, this termination shall be effective immediately. Please advise us of any further requirements to effectuate said termination in order to avoid undue harm to either party.”

The five hospitals’ decisions to leave the MHA also come on the heels of a $250,000 donation made to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley by a political action committee associated with the organization.

While Tim Moore, president and CEO of the MHA, did not clarify in a recent interview with SuperTalk Mississippi if the donation and the terminated memberships are related, he did say that the organization is supporting Presley in hopes of Mississippi eventually expanding Medicaid.

“Everything that is done is for the benefit of hospitals and also for the patient. Each of these hospitals that have dropped out, they’re still going to receive the benefits of anything that is accomplished by the agenda of the MHA,” Moore said. “The one and most important thing to all of our hospitals is Medicaid expansion.”

As the list of hospitals – which now includes four of the state’s 10 largest – continues to grow, lawmakers across the state such as House Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White are beginning to intervene.

“I have hospitals in my district that are members of the association, so I’m going to have conversations with the association,” White, R-West, said. “I just don’t know how you go all in on a Democratic candidate in Mississippi and say, ‘Well, this is our issue and we’re going to die on this hill for better or for worse.’ I think that’s ultimately what caused people to start jumping ship.”

This past legislative session, the Republican-controlled House and Senate voted in favor of multiple bills they believe could serve as both short-term and long-term solutions to the state’s ongoing hospital crisis while nixing any bills that would have expanded Medicaid.

The hospitals mentioned in this story either declined or did not respond to a request for further comment from SuperTalk Mississippi News.

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