Gulfport hospital has one big concern with Obama proposal

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - On the eve of President Obama's health care reform news conference, the head of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport said his biggest concern with the plan was whether it would leave Memorial enough money to serve the same people it currently treats.

Other than that, Gary Marchand said, "I think there are some aspects that make sense, particularly to us as a health care provider to rationalize the insurance markets in the United States."

The Obama plan is supposed to expand health care coverage, improve quality and lower costs.

On Monday, the city of Gulfport learned its health care costs had more than doubled in just five years.  According to Gulfport's comptroller, the city pays an average of $7,500 per employee for its health care coverage.

Mike Mucha knows how health care costs can strangle a family.  When he first left the military, Mucha had to buy a health care policy for himself and his wife.

"That quite honestly was ridiculously expensive," he said after a workout at the Francis Collins Fitness Center in Gulfport.

Mucha no longer needs that policy, because his insurance now comes from the Long Beach school system.

Before talking about health care, Mucha was focused on his physical well being.  He participated in an aerobics class taught by Rosia Pascley.

"We're not talking about beauty.  We're talking about health.  We're talking about your heart.  We're talking about living," the instructor told students just before their warm up began.

Pascley is a retired nurse who teaches aerobics in her spare time.  She appreciates the value of a good workout.

"If you don't go to a gym, you're going to be at the doctors.  You're going to be at the pharmacy," she said.  "You're going to be paying a whole lot more for health care."

Thousands of Mississippians and millions of Americans are in that predicament for a variety of reasons.  Either they're out of shape, and in poor health, causing their premiums to be high.  Or they're out of work and without health care coverage.

President Obama's proposal to rectify that would impact those people, and the administrators who run Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.  Memorial's hospital administrator has one basic question about the Obama health care reform initiative.

"Is there going to be enough money in the system so that Memorial, not only maintains and sustains what we are today, but that we can continue to improve as services and technologies improve?  That's our number one concern," he asked.

Pascley just had shoulder surgery.  So, she's acutely aware of just how important affordable health care coverage can be.  She's also aware that the most basic remedy for health care can be found in the gym.

"It doesn't take long.  And you feel so good," she said.

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