GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - In a matter of weeks, Memorial Hospital's 89-bed behavioral health unit will be under new ownership.
"So bottom line, short answer, we want those services available for the long term for the community residents. It's best to do that in current payment policy for us to sell this unit to a private operator," said Gary Marchand, who is the President and CEO of Gulfport Memorial Hospital.
Marchand knows it's a great loss for the hospital, but since Medicaid implemented new payment policies in 2013, it has lost $6,000,000 in underpayments.
"I think the answer has become clear. That in our hands, we're not going to recover our costs. In a private operator's hands, ironically, the Medicaid payment model will flex up, and they will be able to recover the cost of operating the asset," said Marchand.
For State Rep. Scott DeLano, this outcome is a hard pill to swallow.
"I take responsibility in my part as a state legislator in making sure that we provide those resources that are needed in local jurisdictions. We've got to do a better job with that. We've got to find more money that's available for it," said DeLano.
DeLano admits the way Medicaid funding models are set up they're difficult to understand, but it doesn't mean they can't find a solution to adjust the way mental healthcare is funded across Mississippi.
So, what's it going to take? DeLano says that's something he and other coast lawmakers have discussed.
"It's going to take a rewrite of the Medicaid formula, and also, it's going to take additional dollars from the State of Mississippi to help augment the local dollars that are going to come in that are going to be required, whether it's from private sources or from public sources," said DeLano.
State law requires public hearings on the sale, since the city and county own the hospital. The next hearing is Dec. 20 at 1:30 p.m. at Gulfport City Hall.