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Report To The People

Adequate Funding For Mississippi Medical Center Is Essential For State’s Healthcare

By Tommy Reynolds

Last Thursday, I attended a House Appropriations subcommittee meeting where the budget for the University of Mississippi Medical Center for the coming year was considered. The University Medical Center is the state’s teaching hospital, helping train Mississippi’s doctors.

According to the Interim Director of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, each year 100,000 persons are seen in the emergency room of this medical facility. An entering class of 130 medical students is expected each year. The University Medical Center treats tens of thousands of hospital patients in Mississippi each year, many of which are not insured.

Of those patients who use the University Medical Center emergency room – often in trauma situations – less than 50 percent are insured at all. Other patients who are insured have insurance which often covers only a portion of the cost of their hospital stay.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center provides a level one trauma care center and provides services which are not available anywhere else in our state.

If current cuts planned to the Medical Center are made for the state’s upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2010, the state bone marrow transplant program will have to be curtailed, there will be no increase in the number of doctors that can be trained, the Children’s Cardiovascular unit will be curtailed, and the Poison Control Center will be closed.

At the meeting, we discussed how these cuts could be avoided when the sub-committee met with the medical center officials. Mississippi has the fewest doctors per capita in the nation, and rural areas are most often chronically under-served by physicians. I strongly support adequate funding for the University of Mississippi Medical Center for training of additional doctors, particularly for critical need, rural, and small town areas.

I hope that we can make funding of the University of Mississippi Medical Center a priority for the next fiscal year. It would truly be a tragedy for Mississippi to lose the progress we have made at the Medical Center, and the potential of good works that this Facility has, such as its level one trauma accreditation and the Children’s Cancer Center services.

Last week, at the urging of law enforcement officials, many of whom contacted me, as well as other representatives, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 512 which would require a doctor’s prescription for pseudoephedrine, which is a major ingredient in the manufacture of the illegal drug “crystal” methamphetamine. I was contacted by officials from the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and local law enforcement officials in support of this measure. The measure passed the House with only 15 dissenting votes against it. There were over 100 representatives, including me, voting for the Bill.

If I can be of any assistance to you please call on me. My phone number in Jackson during the session is (601) 359-3365. The phone number in my Charleston office is (662) 647-3203, and my residence phone number is (662) 473-2571. I can also be contacted by writing me at my home address of 15 CR 429, Water Valley, MS 38965, or at my office address of P.O. Box 220, Charleston, MS 38921

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