“Good Morning. I’m Sam Cameron, President of the Mississippi Hospital Association.
Last night around 11:00, House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement with the Executive Branch regarding Medicaid funding and reauthorization of the Division of Medicaid. I was not here last night when that agreement was reached. An MHA staff member, though, was here and he had a direct conversation with Governor Barbour and his Chief of Staff.
In that conversation, Governor Barbour made it clear that MHA had to endorse the agreement or he would not issue the call to reauthorize and fund the Division of Medicaid.
He made it clear that the bill would have to be adopted by both chambers last night (remember, this was around 11:00 p.m.) or he would not issue the call for a Special Session to extend the Division of Medicaid before it “sunsets” tonight.
He made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that if the bill was not passed last night, hospitals would face far more drastic measures from the Governor’s Office if he were to run the Division of Medicaid by Executive Order.
Since neither MHA nor the Legislature met those deadlines or conditions (and since the Governor has obviously had time to “sleep on it,”) I am not here to respond to the Governor’s threats. I am here to address what I understand to be in the agreement reached between the House, Senate, and Governor Barbour last night.
My understanding is that all of MHA’s requested protections are included in the agreed-upon bill. If that is the case and we are trying to verify that, this is certainly something we can endorse. But, as I said, that endorsement is subject to verification.
I understand there are sufficient taxes levied on hospitals that will finally provide the Division of Medicaid with a permanent source of funding, or for at least three years. While the current Division of Medicaid is yet to demonstrate its ability to plan, project, and administer any budget, we accept and endorse the tax amounts and assessment methodologies contained in the bill.
I want to warn everyone that there are hospitals who cannot afford to pay the tax provisions in this bill. I want to warn everyone that service and staff reductions in local hospitals may occur as a result of this bill. I want to warn everyone that, regardless of the amount of taxes contained in this bill, the Division of Medicaid will continue looking for additional taxes or cuts in services in the near future.
To protect the 600,000 of our most vulnerable citizens who depend on Medicaid for their health care, to protect the interests of hospitals who provide that care, to preserve as much as possible the economic health of those cities and towns in which hospitals are the largest employers, and —most importantly—to prevent Governor Barbour from trying to run the Division of Medicaid by Executive Order, I ask members of the Mississippi House and Senate to adopt this bill.”