Miss. hospital to continue care for La. patients

Published 6:56 pm Thursday, July 3, 2008

A hospital in Mississippi that threatened to stop caring for Medicaid patients from Louisiana because the of the way it reimburses out-of-state hospitals will await a study by health officials before making any decision to cut off non-emergency care.

Officials with River Region Medical Center in Vicksburg, which sits along the border between the two states, said Tuesday they will await the outcome of studies by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, which is re-examining the way Louisiana reimburses out-of-state hospitals for providing extended care to Medicaid patients.

The Louisiana Legislature failed to pass a bill this year that would have increased payments to out-of-state hospitals with at least 1,000 inpatient days in 2007. The bill aimed to make payments equal to those made to Louisiana hospitals. Instead, lawmakers agreed to let health officials study the reimbursement issue.

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River Region serves Medicaid patients from East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes.

River Region interim CEO Brad Holland said the bill hospital would have increased payments to the hospital to more than $1.4 million, 63 percent more than what it is now paid for serving Medicaid patients from the three Louisiana parishes.

“It is our strong desire to continue providing care to the Louisiana Medicaid patients who have made us their hospital of choice, so we hope that this situation can be resolved,” Holland said.

Medicaid is a federal-state program that helps pay for health care for the poor and disabled. States determine eligibility and which health services are covered.

A Louisiana fiscal statement showed that payments to the facility with the highest Louisiana Medicaid patient load in Mississippi, which is debt-strapped Natchez Regional Medical Center, would increase $103 per Medicaid day under the bill.

Holland said River Region’s patient base beyond Warren County includes Claiborne, Issaquena, Sharkey and Yazoo counties, plus western Hinds County. Its Louisiana patients have come from as far west as Delhi.