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Health care professionals urge
Barbour to change Medicaid

By Staff
Campaign Visit Dr. John Clay, left, talks with Republican gubernatorial candidate Haley Barbour on Friday before the longtime GOP leader spoke to health care professionals in Meridian about his health care plan. Standing next to Barbour are Drs. Jack Halbrook and David Nix.Photo by Kyle Carter / The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
August 23,2003
Health care providers in Meridian criticized the state's Medicaid program on Friday, raising issues they said they want Republican gubernatorial candidate Haley Barbour to consider.
Jack Halbrook, a medical oncologist, expressed frustration over Medicaid red-tape. Doctors must complete paper work before they can prescribe narcotics for pain.
Barbour said too many government agencies have the attitude that the last people they want input from is providers.
Campaign swing
Barbour was in Meridian on Friday for a brief round table discussion at the Howard Johnson's with local health care professionals his fifth stop this week to promote his "Healthy Mississippi Plan."
Barbour meets incumbent Democrat Ronnie Musgrove and three third-party candidates in the Nov. 4 general election. At stake is the state's top elected job; the governor earns $122,160 a year.
The longtime Republican leader outlined his health program at campaign stops this week in Madison, Tupelo, Hattiesburg and Gulfport. He said his plan will improve the state's health care, access and cost.
Barbour's plan calls for more lawsuit reform measures; management of the Medicaid program with bulk purchases of prescription drugs to save money; and no cuts in Medicaid provider rates.
Dental care
Tina Dyess, director of program development for Hope Village for Children, told Barbour that Medicaid doesn't pay for some things it should.
She said a 10-year-old child at Hope Village, a home for abused and neglected children, could not get his dental needs met through Medicaid.
She said she had to go to the private sector to save the child's teeth when she found out Medicaid would pay for extractions but not a root canal.
Dr. Margaret Morrison, a pediatrician and former district health officer with the Mississippi State Department of Health, also spoke about Medicaid problems.
Tort reform
Administrators with Meridian's three major hospitals Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center, Riley Hospital and Rush Foundation Hospital said tort reform is still their top concern.
Steve Nichols, Riley chief executive officer, said tort reform measures the state Legislature approved last year have not helped.
Barbour said lawsuit abuse is causing a health care crisis in the state, something he said he has a detailed plan to end.
He said another effort to stop medical liability abuse is to create a review board that would hear cases before they are filed in court to determine their validity.