House Democrats Respond to Layoffs at Hancock County Medical Center

August 30, 2013

The Republican failure to embrace the economic innovation of Medicaid expansion is already having an impact in places like Hancock County where the Hancock Medical Center has begun laying off employees.

Several members of the House Democratic Caucus have responded.

House Democratic Caucus Leader Bobby Moak (D-Bogue Chitto) said, “Last month, employees at Hancock County Medical Center in South Mississippi were laid off due in part to high levels of uncompensated care that occurs when hospitals treat the uninsured. Unfortunately, the actions were predictable. When the Republican leadership in Mississippi walked away from the opportunity to expand access to health insurance for 300,000 Mississippians, it walked away from supporting the state’s hospitals and the people who work in them as well. In the face of ongoing opposition to the implementation of policies that expand access to health insurance, Mississippians should brace for more job losses and the associated consequences for Mississippi communities. Fortunately, a solution exists. The Mississippi Legislature should come together in January and fully implement the Affordable Care Act. Such actions would connect working people to health coverage that will make working Mississippians healthier, more productive, and more financially secure and not only save jobs but create more jobs in the healthcare industry.”

Rep. David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis) said, “Many employees working at the Hancock Medical Center were laid off and others experienced reductions in hours earlier this month. Rising costs of providing uncompensated care were among the reasons cited to explain the actions. Additionally, financial conditions forced the hospital to request from the county consideration of a $6 million bond to fund remaining construction costs and operating expenses. Should the county decide to move forward with the bond issue, Hancock County taxpayers will likely be responsible for the bond repayment or tax increases. If high levels of uncompensated care continue and the hospital continues to incur losses that result in a default, this situation could become more dire.”

Rep. Robert Johnson (D-Natchez) said, “Such instances are not isolated events. During the Medicaid expansion debate, hospital administrators and those who work with them stated unequivocally that the policy’s implementation was needed to provide much needed revenue in the wake of reductions in federal funds. If the status quo prevails, more announcements of hospital layoffs in other parts of the state will follow.”

Rep. Cecil Brown (D-Jackson) said, “The most common sense solution is for the legislature to come back together and vote to expand Medicaid in January. More states led by Republicans are seeing the wisdom of an approach that expands access to healthcare, creates jobs and supports hospitals. This month, Michigan, a state with a Republican Governor, a Republican led Senate and a Republican led House voted to expand Medicaid. Mississippi should do the same. Expansion would cover 300,000 people, create 9,000 jobs and bring in $1 billion to the state annually. Importantly, it would prevent the perpetuation of the same conditions that keep Mississippi among unhealthiest states in the union and make the workforce healthier and more productive and thus more attractive to development.”


WLOX Staff, Pink slips handed out at Hancock County Medical Center, WLOX (August 1, 2013)

In all, eight people at the Medical Center have lost their jobs and others have had their hours cut.