Judged:

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oes everyone really understand the issue surrounding the Medicaid cuts proposed by Governor Haley Barbour? He is not willing to use rainy day funds or increase tobacco taxes to fund Medicaid. His only solution is to tax hospitals, physicians and nursing homes. Most hospitals across the state of Mississippi were cut millions of dollars in funding last year. Some laid off employees, many reduced employee work hours to 32 hour work weeks, some reduced employee benefits....and now our governor wants to cut Mississippi hospitals again. What most people do not know is that hospitals throughout the state write off millions annually and they have done this for years. Their mission is to provide excellent care to the residents of Mississippi regardless of their ability to pay.

Health care workers throughout our great state cannot understand this move by our governor. The same governor that pulled us through Hurricane Katrina--the same governor that has worked hard to create new jobs in Mississippi--has made it clear. If one of the three proposals to cut payments to hospitals is not approved during the upcoming special session then Governor Barbour will do whatever is necessary to fund Medicaid-- cut reimbursements to hospitals, doctors and nursing homes--0h.....except increase the tax on alcohol and tobacco...or use funds out of the rainy day fund. And of course our elected officials have made it clear--either the Governor allows them to include a tobacco tax or funds from the rainy day fund in their proposal or they will adjourn the moment they begin meeting. So...what happens? I will tell you what happens. Millions of additional dollars will be cut from hospitals in our state that are already at break even or operating at a deficit. Does our Governor understand that if he cuts millions from Mississippi hospitals that they will have to lay off hundreds of employees. If our Governor cuts payments to physicians--they will leave our state. They have too many opportunities to go elsewhere. It is hard enough for hospitals and clinics to recruit doctors to Mississippi and if doctors begin leaving the state (like they did during the tort reform issue) then others will certainly not come here.

The same governor that is trying to create jobs does not understand that hundreds of health care workers will be unemployed if he continues in this manner. PLEASE....someone needs to get his attention.

There has been a great deal of information in the press about Governor Barbour's allegiance to the tobacco industry. As we all know...his lobbying firm in Washington has firm ties to the tobacco industry. Mississippi has the lowest tobacco tax in the nation--Mississippi has a huge deficit in our Medicaid program--sounds like an easy fix. Add a $1 tobacco tax and the Medicaid program will be funded. But no....the governor said just last week that he does plan on increasing the tobacco tax later...but the funds will not go to health care.

Mississippi--we put Governor Barbour in office. We have to take a stand on this issue. Not only will Mississippi health care workers lose their jobs but spin off companies will relocate if hospitals can no longer afford to purchase their goods and services.

The reimbursement to physicians and hospitals through the Medicaid program is already low. So if the reimbursements are cut deeper, then many physicians will not be able to afford to continue to see Medicaid patients in their practices--and these patients will flood into our emergency rooms which are already overcrowded. Health care costs in our state will sky rocket...and many hospitals will close their doors. Is this good for Mississippi? No.

Please write Governor Barbour and make it clear--we have to protect our health care system in Mississippi.

I want to hear from others about this issue.