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River Oaks wants its Canton Hospital to be bailed out by state government

September 8th, 2010

In a statement from Tom Kirkland, legal counsel to Madison River Oaks, it was admitted today that MRO and its parent company of Health Management Associates is at a competitive disadvantage and has filed suit to have the State of Mississippi protect it from the free-market economy.

The statement comes on the heels of St. Dominic Hospital filing an appeal in Madison County Chancery Court seeking to reverse the State Health Officer’s August 26 decision to disapprove their plans to build a second and hospital Madison County.

Make no mistake about it. This has nothing to do with the future health care of the residents of Madison County.

“Madison River Oaks is ready to defend its new hospital by arguing that St. Dominic’s proposed new hospital … will have an adverse impact on the ability of Madison River Oaks to provide care to all of Madison County.”

This is not about health care, and it never has been. Today’s statement proves that Health Management Associates wants to be bailed out by the government so that it won’t have to compete in the marketplace. To this point, HMA and the state health department have argued there isn’t enough need for a second hospital in the county.

The fact of the matter is, as has been stated here before, Madison County is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next 20 years.

The Health Management Associates-owned Madison County Medical Center opposed St. Dominic’s plans and welcomed the recommendation. HMA broke ground in September 2009 on a new $42 million hospital for its 67 beds off Nissan Parkway in Canton which will be called Madison River Oaks next summer.
HMA does not want more competition in the area for fear that a new St. Dominic’s facility would take away its private-pay patients, leaving it with more patients insured by Medicaid, which offers lower reimbursements and is damaging to a hospital’s bottom line.

If I were part of the HMA brain trust, I would have opposed the St. Dominic plan too. On the face of it, keeping a hospital out of Madison makes good business sense.

For years, the options for the people in Madison and Ridgeland and most of Madison County have been to drive to Jackson or to drive to the old hospital in Canton.

So, a fancy, new hospital in Canton should mean all those Madison and Ridgeland folks will stay in county for health care.

But a new hospital in Canton isn’t going to change a thing.

Without the new St. Dominic Hospital, people who live in Madison and Ridgeland have the same choices they always have.

Go to Jackson or go to Canton.

My guess is 95 percent of the people who have always gone to Jackson will continue to go to Jackson.
The new Canton hospital will serve Canton and north Madison County as well as some in Yazoo, Holmes Attala and Leake counties. It will also get people from the anticipated growth in Gluckstadt.

Madison and Ridgeland will remain underserved with the exact same choices they have had for the last 60 years.

To say St. Dominic hasn’t justified its case for a certificate of need is short-sighted and disturbing.
Perhaps there is some secret information about predicted metro-area population over the next 30 years.

Lacking that, everyone should realize that the lack of a hospital in the Madison-Ridgeland communities endangers the lives of tens of thousands of people.

St. Dominic and HMA both recognize the future growth of Madison County and want in on the action.
Motive is not the question.

But in talking about money and economics, failing to provide convenient health care will damage the area’s quality-of-life image for those who might have been contemplating a family or business move to the area.

Therefore, the state health department either doesn’t recognize all of the geographical and economic realities or is blatantly placing the business interests of one group ahead of the other.

In the end, this shouldn’t be about choosing St. Dominic over HMA or the Canton facility. It should be about providing adequate health care facilities for one of the few burgeoning areas of the state.

HMA proved its business-only intent with today’s motion in court.

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