It's bad enough when healthcare providers have to worry about restrictions heaped on the system by the legislative branch of government. Now comes a member of the judiciary to put a crimp in an innovative plan to provide needed services.
In Mississippi, state health officials planned to try an idea to get more obstetric services for poor residents of the Jackson area. State Health Officer Edward Thompson, M.D., approved a certificate of need for River Oaks Hospital in Jackson to build a 10-bed birthing center, provided that 25% of the hospital's obstetric patients were Medicaid recipients.
But County Judge Chet Dillard put the kibosh on the plan, saying it constituted a "serious economic threat" to existing providers. Now, the hospital will have to pursue a costly appeal to the state Supreme Court if it wants to proceed.
The action is ironic because some government agencies have been trying to encourage hospital executives to execute, communicate and document their charitable services. Massachusetts, for example, recently decided to issue guidelines to establish alternative methods to measure how much a not-for-profit hospital spends on community benefits.
Healthcare providers need more, not less, incentive to provide needed services for Medicaid recipients.