Leader on Mississippi Hospital Association exodus: 'I can't figure it out'

The CEO of the Mississippi Hospital Association said the recent exodus of several hospitals from the association has left him perplexed, according to Mississippi Today.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, Ocean Springs-based Singing River Health System and George Regional Health System in Lucedale have decided to exit the association, citing concerns about leadership. A fifth hospital, Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Miss., has also decided to leave.

The hospitals' moves come after the association's political action committee, Friends of Mississippi Hospitals, made a $250,000 donation to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley, a supporter of Medicaid expansion, according to Mississippi Today. Mr. Presley's opponent, Republican incumbent Tate Reeves, opposes Medicaid expansion.

MHA President Tim Moore told the publication he suspects the donation was a catalyst for the hospitals' departures, and he is baffled by the situation.

"There's nothing else that has changed. Nothing," he said in an interview with Mississippi Today last week. "Our strategy has not changed."

Mr. Moore also emphasized the financial challenges hospitals are facing, telling the publication, "How can anybody blame the hospital association for committing upfront to somebody that has committed to helping hospitals and patients across the state? How can you condemn that? I can't figure it out." According to Mississippi Today, experts estimate that Medicaid expansion could bring in millions to the state and provide up 300,000 additional people with insurance. 

None of the hospitals specifically cited the donation as a reason for exiting in letters to the association.

The MHA represents the interests of hospitals in the state legislature. Its website states that it comprises more than 100 hospitals, health systems, networks, care providers and a pool of more than 50,000 employees.

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