Hospitals on defensive over Medicaid

Hospital chiefs from Brookhaven, Meadville and Monticello agree that paying their share of the governor’s desired $90 million hospital tax would cut deep into their bottom lines and in some instances could cause staff and service reductions. They also pointed out that taxing hospitals to pay for a state social service is unfair, saying the state should fund the program and not private businesses.

“What governor wants to do is balance the state budget on the backs of hospitals who are taking care of the poor people in Mississippi,” said Alvin Hoover, chief executive officer of Brookhaven’s King’s Daughters Medical Center. “Whose responsibility is it to pay for Medicaid? Not hospitals. We’re the service – people are supposed to pay hospitals to provide health care.”

House and Senate budget negotiators Sunday night announced they had finally reached an agreement on the state’s approximately $5 billion budget for fiscal year 2010, but Barbour announced Monday he would not call a special session to bring the spending plan to a vote in the Legislature. With the regular session over, lawmakers are dependent on the governor to recall them to Jackson to establish a budget before the new state fiscal year starts July 1 – one week away.