On May 13, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule reporting reimbursement to hospitals for the uninsured known as disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments will begin decreasing starting on Oct. 1. Hospitals across America, including those in Mississippi, will indeed experience deep financial cuts for the medical care they provide to people who are uninsured in states that don’t expand Medicaid. Financial reimbursements to hospitals for the uninsured are known as DSH payments.
Under the Affordable Care Act, DSH payments are reduced to hospitals because it is assumed the uninsured will be covered under the expansion of Medicaid. In a state like Mississippi where state legislators are not allowed to have a floor vote for Medicaid to cover working uninsured Mississippians, hospitals will have to lay-off personnel and order less from suppliers, who may in turn, lay off their workers.
The quality of care in Mississippi’s hospitals could over time decline. This scenario is similar to your employer cutting your pay check and you being expected to pay bills with less money. Whether you are on the side of liking or disliking the Affordable Care Act, it’s the law.
If Medicaid’s budget in Mississippi is not reauthorized by June 30, we will see seniors in nursing homes lose their care. If Medicaid is not expanded in Mississippi, hard-working Mississippians will lose an opportunity to receive a yearly staying well physical and hospitals will, in some cases, close their doors, lay off staff and cut services. Lastly, those companies who do business with our hospitals may have to lay-off staff. The economic impact will have a severe toll on Mississippi, further hurting the uninsured 50-plus population.
AARP Mississippi is encouraging Mississippi’s governor, lieutenat governor and legislators to meet with one common goal prior to June 30: Discuss sensible solutions so our hospitals can continue to administer quality care to Mississippians. Politics should not take a precedent over quality healthcare.
On behalf of AARP Mississippi’s 275,000 members, we are asking our lawmakers to put aside partisan politics and allow a vote on Medicaid reauthorization and Medicaid expansion to meet the healthcare needs of hardworking Mississippians.
SHERRI DAVIS-GARNER is AARP Mississippi State Director. Contact her at 6360 I-55 North | Suite 160 | Jackson, MS 39211.