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Senator: Health care major factor in state future

Health care continues to be an important state issue and faces an uncertain future, with much riding on the outcome of Tuesday’s elections, a state senator said Thursday.

     “Health care has been a major part of what I do, as a senator and in my job,” District 31 Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton, told members of the Brookhaven Rotary Club Thursday.

     Burton currently serves on the Public Health and Welfare Committee and also works in community relations for Sta-Home Health and Hospice.

     With health care, Burton said the state faces many issues. He said a key part of it is uncertainty, as it is unclear what will become of the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” in the future if Republicans take over the White House.

     Another hot issue currently is Medicare. Burton said changes have to be made at some point to save it.

     “We have to address Medicare in some way,” he said. “Medicare will go broke if we don’t do something.”

     When asked what he thought of Tuesday’s presidential race, Burton said he thinks it will be a close one.

     “It’s a tight race,” he said. “I think Gov. Romney has a great shot at winning it, but it’ll be close. I don’t think people can say there are happy with how things are going.”

     Health care still faces challenges no matter which party controls the capital, said Burton.

     “We just don’t know what will happen after the election,” he said. “We also have a lot of issues affecting insurers and hospitals across the nation.”

     One aspect of the ACA that has been talked about is the issue of re-hospitalization. Under the act, if a person is hospitalized for one problem and then released, but is re-hospitalized for a different problem within 30 days, the hospital is penalized.

     “That’s unfair to hospitals,” Burton said. “It’s crazy stuff.”

     Burton said it’s not too late for the ACA to be disposed of.

     “We’re not so far along we can’t undo what we’ve done,” he said of the act. “I think Congress can add reforms to health care that do not put us in more debt like Obamacare does.”

     Burton said the ACA has a few provisions that are helpful, but on the whole it can be hurtful.

     “The health care law had many negative things in it,” he said.

     One key element of the presentation was that Burton said Mississippi needs to keep hospitals and clinics open and have more medical professionals.

     “We need to make sure there is a hospital out there to go to,” he said. “I think our hospitals are very important. We’re (the state legislature) doing everything we can to keep medical professionals in Mississippi.”

     He stressed the state’s economy on the whole is just as important to luring doctors into the state and keeping ones that are from the state, because their families also need jobs.    

     Before he left, Burton also praised Brookhaven’s state Sen. Sally Doty.

     “Sen. Doty does a great job,” he said. “Y’all have sent a great senator to the capital.”