Solution needs to be found in tricky Medicaid numbers game

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 10, 2006

Only the federal government could come up with a formula thatsays Mississippi has a $360 million shortfall in health carefunding, of which the state must find $90 million to receive $270million – which turns into $360 million for Medicaid reimbursementfor Mississippi.

Then comes the governor’s office, which wants to take $45million out of a $70 million budget surplus to cover half of the$90 million shortfall, which somehow gets the state back to $360million. Yeah, we are confused, too!

The skinny of all of this is that the federal Medicaid fundingformula is being changed – despite efforts by the Governor to haltthe formula change – which means hospitals across the state will befeeling a pinch come Sept. 1.

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Locally, that means roughly a $400,000 budget shortfall forKing’s Daughters Medical Center. What that means for SouthwestRegional Medical Center in Pike County or Lawrence County Hospitalin Monticello is less clear as they are considered public operatedhospitals, while KDMC is considered a non-profit privatehospital.

Private hospitals are the entities Gov. Haley Barbour’s plantargets to fund the $360 million shortfall that is really $90million, but could be reduced to $45 million (of which privatehospitals across the state would pay $27.5 million) because of the$70 million budget surplus from last year’s budget – if theLegislature will agree to Barbour’s idea to earmark one half of theexcess budget funds, which some lawmakers are already saying is abad idea because it is one-time money…Yeah, we are stillconfused, but oh do we smell a political battle brewing.

So what does this mean for local folks? According to KDMC ChiefExecutive Officer Phillip Grady, nothing he hopes the patients willnotice.

“We plan to operate without cutting any services and plan tocontinue on with our expansion plans,” Grady said, adding thehospital will have to do some belt-tightening to cover theprojected $400,000 shortfall.

Grady, along hospital administrators across the state, arediligently working with the Mississippi Hospital Association tofind a solution or alternative to the governor’s plan.