The Clarion-Ledger, 10/30/8

Officials are weighing changes to the state health plan to accommodate growth in north Mississippi by redrawing the map that determines where new hospitals can be built or where existing hospitals can expand.

A task force of the state Board of Health met Wednesday to discuss the proposed maps, which would create two new hospital service areas, bringing the state total to nine and grouping together fast-growing counties in northwest Mississippi. A final decision by the full board is planned for January.

“None of it is set yet in concrete,” said Dr. Ed Thompson, state health officer. “Everything that is proposed can be changed.”

While about 50 hospital officials, lawyers and medical professional crammed into a conference room in the state Health Department’s downtown Jackson headquarters to attend the hearing, there was no debate that the state had outgrown the old map. Several attendees told board members they believe the old map – unchanged since the mid-1980s – was antiquated.