Memorial Hospital to study selling mental health unit

Memorial Hospital to study selling mental health unit

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - High costs and low Medicaid payments have Memorial Hospital leaders looking at selling its mental health care arm.

According to a news release from Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, the publicly owned hospital is looking at options that include selling Memorial Behavioral Health in Orange Grove.

CEO Gary Marchand says Medicaid cuts severely impact mental health, and that a private company is the most practical option to keep mental health services in the community.

"It's just the way Medicaid reimbursements work," Marchand said.

The CEO says that public hospitals such as Memorial are "paid at a lower cost structure than a for-profit private mental health hospital."

The first step needed for the board of directors to explore a possible sale - a feasibility study.

"We feel the study will say the Medicaid payments are not adequate, so it's not feasible long-term," said Marchand in regards to operating Memorial Behavioral Health.

Cuts in Medicaid reimbursements led Memorial and Singing River Hospital System to file a lawsuit after Medicaid denied appeals from the hospitals for Medicaid reimbursement. The case is now pending in Chancery Court, but Marchand says it could take two to three years to be resolved and Memorial needs to look toward the future.

"We have two priorities, community access to mental health services and preserving all of the jobs [at Memorial Behavioral Health]," Marchand said.

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