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MHA president calls for Medicaid expansion as nearly half of rural hospitals flirt with closure

Greenwood Leflore Hospital
Photo courtesy of Greenwood Leflore Hospital

As the healthcare crisis continues across Mississippi, a new report shows that almost half of the state’s rural hospitals are in danger of closing.

According to the report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform (CHQPR), 34 of Mississippi’s 74 rural hospitals are struggling financially and could eventually face closure. 25 of those are at risk of closing immediately or in the coming years.

When asked Wednesday which hospital is closest to shutting off its lights, Tim Moore of the Mississippi Hospital Association had an unsurprising answer.

“Greenwood Leflore still takes the priority there,” Moore said. “And they’re still working hard to find solutions, to maintain access to care in the community.”

Mississippi was behind only Kansas and Texas in the number of hospitals at risk of closing. The report also showed that 49 rural hospitals, or 66 percent, in Mississippi are currently operating at a loss.

Moore, who has served as president and CEO of the MHA since 2013, said due to low rates of insurance coverage in rural areas, the best chance for these hospitals is the expansion of Medicaid.

“Those individuals are currently receiving care at hospitals and they’re not in a situation where they can pay for the care, so expanding Medicaid funds those hospitals are care that they are already providing,” Moore said.

The updated report from CHQPR showed an increase of seven hospitals now in danger of closing, compared to the center’s April numbers. In that timespan alone, one hospital has shut down entirely with multiple having to close specialty units or lay off employees.

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