Medicaid Cuts Could Devastate Health Care

JACKSON (WLOX) -- The Governor's Office has filed the notice of medicaid budget cuts with the Secretary of State's office. Doing that notifies medicaid providers of cuts that will take place if a funding solution is not found for a 90 million dollar shortfall.

The cuts would take effect August sixth. All sides of this issue agree; if cuts are made, it would be devastating to health care state wide.

"There would be hospital closures, there would be layoffs of hospital personnel, there would be decreases or termination of service to Medicaid patients," says The Mississippi Hospital Association's chief financial officer, Doctor Michael Bailey.

Bailey doesn't mince words when asked what effect Medicaid cuts would have on the state. But he also believes the legislature will come through, so cuts can be avoided.

Bailey says, "We have the highest confidence in the legislature that like year's past, this year they will also take care of the financial needs of Medicaid."

Governor Haley Barbour is not as trusting.

"We knew going in the fiscal year that we're gonna have a 375 million dollar deficit because the House has failed to do it's job," says Governor Barbour. "And because of that, I'm forced to do something that is bad for health care in Mississippi."

Whether or not there are cuts, the Medicaid budget is still in the hands of the Governor and lawmakers at the state capitol. One thing the threat of cuts has done is put hospitals and their employees in limbo.

Bailey says he's received call after call from hospitals statewide voicing concern over what's next.

"It's not fair to put the sick person, the hospital and the health care worker who's out there trying to take care of the sick persons in the middle of a political battle," Bailey says.

Representative Robert Johnson, a Democrat from Natchez says progress is being made as more discussions take place.

"We are two bodies that are at least talking and we talk about more things everytime we meet than we were before, so I think we're getting close," Johnson says.

The legislature is expected to return to resume the special session on August the fourth.

That gives lawmakers two days to find a funding source for medicaid to avoid the cuts going into effect.

Click here to see a list of proposed Medicaid cuts.