The unknown aspects of healthcare in Mississippi were revealed to the audience at the Delta State University Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Wednesday.
Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, shed light on education, research, and clinical care in Mississippi.
Woodward said many small hospitals across the state are closing.
"Some are just barely making it year to year to year, and some are on the verge of barely staying open," said Woodward.
Woodward said the state is trying to control the amount that is spent on healthcare and Medicaid to try and keep the costs from escalating the way they are now.
Woodward said, "I don't think our state's population or the economy can sustain the number small hospitals we have. Every little city in every county probably doesn't need a hospital, but they need something. They need some kind of access for their patients."
Woodward said with the advent of electronic health records costs continue to soar.
"We have invested more than $100 million in our electronic health record, and one of the sad realities is that it's like a car, and if it breaks down you have to fix it because you're depending on it. So it's a huge expense," Woodward said.
Woodward said there is much we do not know about healthcare in Mississippi.
She said, "There are question marks at the national level of what's going to happen with the Affordable Care Act, with Medicaid, with Medicare, with the insurance exchanges, and with the NIH funding."
National Institute of Health funding is the big machine that funds a lot of the resources to advance treatments in cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.
"NIH is at risk now, just like everything else in healthcare," said Woodward.
Woodward said no one knows what the next plans are for healthcare though; she said her best guess is that there will continue to be some form of subsidized type insurance.
"The unintended consequence is to make it cheaper and have very high deductibles," said Woodward.
Woodward explained these plans would be great for individuals who are young and healthy.
Woodward also talked about clinical area and educational programs at UMMC.
"We have a lot of programs we feel are most important because that's the only place where it is offered in Mississippi," said Woodward.
Woodward began working at UMMC in 1987. She obtained a degree in microbiology at Mississippi State University and doctor of medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.