Mississippi’s leading public health expert told lawmakers on Monday that over half the state’s rural hospitals are at risk of either immediate or near-term closure.
Dr. Daniel Edney, the state health officer, explained to members of the Senate Public Health Committee that 38 of the state’s total rural hospitals are facing serious financial troubles. This represents 54% of Mississippi's rural hospitals.
“Access to health care across our state is a distinct public health challenge,” Edney said.
Mississippi consistently has some of the worst health outcomes in the nation. Hospital closures, particularly in the Mississippi Delta, will make those already poor health outcomes even worse, according to Edney.
The problem isn’t confined to the Mississippi Delta. Health experts said when one hospital closes, new pressures can fall on other hospitals throughout the state.
“Everyone in the long term needs to be thinking about how we’re going to provide healthcare to people," said Senate Public Health Chairman Hob Bryan, D-Amory.
The Mississippi Hospital Association told legislators that hospitals have trimmed expenses as much as possible and almost all other revenue streams are tapped out.
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