Bill Would Fund Miss. Trauma-Care System


 
 

Michael NewsomMegha Satyanarayana | | Tuesday, March 25, 2008


BILOXI, Miss. -- A bill to fund Mississippi's trauma-care system through fees on items such as driver's licenses, car tags and concealed handguns could raise $40 million a year for the ailing program if it passes, one health policy expert said.

Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, chair of the Public Health and Welfare Committee said Thursday he expects House Bill 1405 to be signed into law. The bill was amended before it passed in the Senate. Bryan said it would be sent to conference soon, for House and Senate negotiators to work out minor differences over some of the fees and some language in the bill.

"We just don't have any philosophical differences," Bryan said. "We all want to get to the same place."

The House version of the bill would add a fee of $2 on annual car-tag renewals, $5 on drivers' licenses, $10 on a gun-carry permit and $1 on vehicle inspections.

Mississippi's trauma-care system is in danger due to the high cost of treating the critically injured. Hospitals lose a substantial amount per patient in unpaid bills or low insurance reimbursements.

Providing trauma care is voluntary, so many hospitals choose to reduce their critical-care services or opt out altogether. The public perception that all emergency rooms treat all trauma cases is simply not true, said Therese Hanna of the Center for Mississippi Health Policy in Jackson.

"We're really at a critical juncture," said Hanna. "If we don't do something, more and more hospitals will drop out of the system. The Legislature recognizes what a problem we have."

The fees on driver's licenses and the like are minimal, said Thomas. What better way to fund the trauma system, she said, than through the very things that cause traumatic injuries?

Most Mississippi hospitals can only stabilize a car-crash or burn victim until an ambulance or helicopter can take them to another medical center. And for every hospital that reduces its services, she said, the burden piles up on hospitals that can treat the victim.

There is only one Level I facility in Mississippi in Jackson and no burn facility. Level I facilities are staffed 24 hours each day and are often associated with medical schools. In South Mississippi the most serious injuries and burns go to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile. In North Mississippi, the worst cases likely go the Regional Medical Center in Memphis. Both hospitals are entitled to funding through this bill.

The closest Level II facility to the Coast is Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg. Level II hospitals have their own surgeons, but they work on a call schedule, rather than being on-site all the time.

Written into the bill is a "pay for play" statute, whereby hospitals that opt out of the trauma-network pay fees to fund those that stay in. This statute is popular with trauma experts and local hospital administrators, including Gail Thomas of Mississippi Coastal Trauma Care Region and Chris Anderson, CEO of Singing River Hospital System.

Singing River Hospital and Ocean Springs Hospital are Level III trauma centers. They have the required orthopedic and general surgeons, whom they share, Anderson said. To become a Level II center, Anderson said he would have to staff each hospital with its own surgeons. But cost outweighs the benefit of having two full trauma-surgery staffs within 20 minutes of each other.

Neither he nor Gary Marchand, CEO of Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, thinks the Coast needs a Level I trauma center. The area population doesn't substantiate it. Forrest General, said Marchand, serves 17 counties, and Memorial Hospital serves three. Memorial Hospital is a Level IV trauma center, as are all others on the Coast besides Singing River and Ocean Springs.

Another provision in the bill is a "no show" fee for patients who die en route or who are transferred last minute to another hospital.

"If you get ready for a patient and the patient doesn't come to your hospital... there is nobody to bill," Bryan said. "You never had a patient, you never provided any service to that patient, but you did incur all the expenses getting ready for the patient."


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Operations and Protcols, Trauma

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

REMSA Programs Helps Reduce Hospital Visits

Community paramedic effort goes into service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

City Official Challenges San Francisco Fire Chief

Ambulance response times among problems noted by city supervisor.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Crash

Victoria ambulance collides with civilian vehicle.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Medics Ditch Pants for Kilts

“Real men do wear kilts.”
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

CO Leak at Illinois School

Girard incident sends over 130 to hospitals.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On September 2014

Who gets thumbs up this month?
More >


Multimedia Thumb

NYC Sept. 11 Anniversary

View images from the ceremony at Ground Zero.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >