Posted by Wes Brooks on Aug 21, 2019
President Steven Utroska presided over today’s meeting. Mike McPhail gave today’s invocation and Wes Brooks led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mark Killingworth and Ryan Pollacci served as our greeters today. Mike McPhail thanked those who volunteered to help with today’s meeting. Tracie Fowler has Walt Skuplen with Mississippi Power as her guest today. Walt is interested in becoming a Rotarian.
Steven reminded members that we need volunteers to deliver our Meals on Wheels. Paula Brahan encouraged members to continue to bring items that can be used by hospice patients and their families. She says they need frozen dinners or gift cards that can be used to purchase frozen dinners. They also need puzzle books and volunteers.
Shane Germany then introduced today’s guest speaker, Richard Roberson. Richard is the General Counsel for the Mississippi Hospital Association. He is also Vice President of the MHA Policy and State Advocacy.
Richard’s presentation was entitled, “A Proposal for Medicaid Reform: MHA Preserving and Improving Access to Health Care.”
He noted that immediately after Katrina, the federal government provided 100% of the state’s match for Medicaid and Medicare in many Mississippi counties. When the recession hit in 2007 and 2008 the federal government again picked up almost all of the expenses associated with those programs.
However, Mississippi’s leadership has stood firm on its decision to not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act. Many believe it is a broken system. Unfortunately, Mississippi has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, and it has been on the rise in recent months. In the last seven years, we’ve added fewer than 2,000 jobs to the ranks of the employed. Richard says unemployed Mississippians do not have the opportunity for employer-funded health care. Additionally, our state ranks 48th in the nation for providing employer health care coverage. Our state has the 6th highest number of uninsured residents.
Meanwhile, uncompensated treatments at the state’s hospitals have increased dramatically during the last seven years. The Mississippi Hospital Association reports that our hospitals incurred $624 million of uncompensated health care expenses last year. Richard notes that 15% of all emergency room visits are uncompensated. He compares that to a business that doesn’t collect from 15% of its customers.
The current Medicaid system costs $400 million annually in operating costs. Emergency Room expenses have increased 155% in recent years and ER visits are up 46%. Many claims are now being denied and there are substantial delays and/or denials in payments. Richard maintains that the current system is broken and needs to be reformed.
The MHA reform proposal has as its primary goal improved access to quality health care. The reform plan proposes a job and work skill training program to help get Mississippians back on the payroll where they can transition to an employer insured model. Participants in the proposed reforms would have to have “skin in the game” by paying a monthly insurance premium of $20. Hospitals would have skin in the game through taxes. The state and the taxpayers would have no increased costs under the MHA reform proposal.
Richard notes that their proposal will create new jobs and be an economic stimulus to the state, increasing general revenue fund. Personal income would rise, and we would have a healthier and more marketable workforce.
There is much more information about the MHA reform proposal on their website at
Steven thanked our speaker and then adjourned the meeting with our motto, “Service Above Self.”