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Mississippi Healthcare Reform—2008 in Review


Email Alert

By Ann Bailey and Kathyrn Dennis*

January 12, 2009

In 2008, Mississippi's most significant healthcare reforms included vast changes to the Mississippi Trauma System and several revisions to the State's health data registry system—the vehicle through which patient data is submitted to the Mississippi Hospital Association on a quarterly basis. Although the issue of mandatory minimum liability insurance for nursing homes was discussed during the 2008 legislative session, the legislature did not ultimately approve the proposed requirement.

Trauma System

The most significant of all healthcare reforms in 2008 came from House Bill 1405, which greatly modified the Mississippi Trauma Care System by authorizing hospitals to charge patients for the reasonable cost of activating trauma care teams in response to a request for trauma care services. Effective July 1, 2008, the bill additionally provides that the hospital will be reimbursed for such trauma care services either by the healthcare insurer by assignment from the patient or by the patient—regardless of whether the services were actually rendered to the patient. The only requirement is that the hospital be reasonable in its activation of the trauma care team in response to a request.

House Bill 1405 also provides that any Level 1 trauma care facility or center located in a state contiguous to Mississippi that participates in the Trauma Care System will receive a reasonable amount of reimbursement from the Mississippi Department of Health for the cost of providing trauma care services to Mississippi residents.

In addition to the cost reimbursement provisions, the bill makes mandatory hospital participation in the Trauma Care System, where previously it was voluntary.

Health Data Registry

The Mississippi Legislature also passed House Bill 1023, which expands the coverage of the Mississippi health data registry system to include data from all licensed healthcare providers—not just from acute care hospitals. The newly enacted bill requires hospitals, free-standing ambulatory surgical facilities, and outpatient diagnostic imaging centers to submit patient data to the Mississippi Hospital Association or the Mississippi Department of Health after each calendar quarter. The bill also provides that information submitted in accordance with the bill will be considered a permitted disclosure for uses and disclosures required by law under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and its privacy rules.

Additionally, House Bill 1023 provides for civil penalties of $10,000 for knowingly or negligently releasing data in violation of the bill, and a penalty of five cents per record per day for failure to supply the data required by the bill.

Upcoming Issues for 2009

Mandatory minimum liability insurance for nursing homes is among issues anticipated to arise during the 2009 legislative session. House Bill 1171, which would have required any owner or operator of any nursing facility operating within the State of Mississippi to purchase and maintain at least $500,000 in liability insurance for each nursing facility owned or operated, died on the House floor during the 2008 legislative session. It is anticipated the issue of liability insurance for nursing facilities will arise again during the 2009 legislative session.

*We would like to thank Ann Bailey (Balch & Bingham LLP, Gulfport, MS) and Kathyrn Dennis (Balch & Bingham LLP, Atlanta, GA) for providing this summary.


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