Sunday, November 19, 2017

Bill Crawford: Do our leaders even care about health?

Have Mississippi leaders become so accustomed to bottom national rankings that they don't care anymore?
Take health rankings for example. Mississippi has ranked among the bottom three since 1990. You know it's bad when the Mississippi State Department of Health posts on its web site, "Mississippi ranks last, or close to last, in almost every leading health outcome."
Few state leaders probably spend any time trolling through health stats. Here's a quick look. The stats are stark.
Consider death rates. Mississippi has the worst rate for infant mortality and ranks in the bottom three in death rates for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, septicemia, flu/pneumonia, kidney disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease according to the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (
Consider other health factors. America's Health Rankings ( puts Mississippi 50th in health for seniors and for physical inactivity, 49th in overall health, primary care physicians, and salmonella, 47th in obesity and infectious disease, 46th in chlamydia, and 45th in smoking. The National Center for Health Statistics shows Mississippi ranks worst in low birthweight and births to unmarried mothers.
Consider health insurance. Census data shows Mississippi ranks 46th in the percentage of population with health insurance coverage ( About 12% have no insurance. Mississippi did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare and has one of the lowest thresholds for adults to qualify for Medicaid medical coverage.
Not an uplifting story.
In the face of these stark facts, what has been the response from our state leaders?
Gov. Phil Bryant has mainly focused on keeping a tight rein on Medicaid spending and eligibility, but he did call for expansion of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's doctor training programs and health care zones. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn have mostly focused on keeping health related costs "within budgetary means." They slashed funding for the State Department of Health, cut funding for the state trauma system, cut funding for Medicaid, reduced funding to hospitals for indigent care, and cut funding for the state's tobacco-free program.
Pretty clear the low health rankings had little impact on budget decisions, huh?
Based on the rhetoric and actions of our state leaders, the solution to our low health rankings, along with our low rankings in education, infrastructure, economy, and opportunity (, appears to be tax cuts.
However, tax cuts won't address critical health needs like this one: "The state trauma system is severely underfunded," Mississippi Hospital Association president Tim Moore told the News Mississippi network. "We know that the state doesn't have the money to fund additional care there, but it needs to be done, so how do we do that?"
Things are likely to get worse before they get better.
PS – You can't look into health disparities in Mississippi without noticing the significant disparities based on race. For African-Americans, infant mortality rates are 71% higher than for whites. Deaths are 24% higher for heart disease and 20% for cancer. The rate of chlamydia is six times that for whites, low birthweight 90% higher, and obesity 21% higher. The rate of uninsured persons is 13% higher. As for tax cuts, they mostly benefit non-African-Americans.
Crawford is syndicated columnist from Meridian (


Albert Schweitzer, M.D. said...

For decades Mississippi has been in the top 5 states training physicians (on a per capita basis).

For decades Mississippi has been in the bottom (at times THE bottom) 5 states for physician retention.

In other words, Mississippi trains physicians for Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ala-bama, Louisiana, Florida, and many other states.

And we spend millions of dollars in expanding the medical center. The osteopath school (interesting comparison between the medical school and the osteopath school tuitions) now in Hattiesburg adds even more who will be allowed to provide health services, but if they move out of state, are of no benefit except to the programs they occupied and presumably to their new addresses.

It's like that old agri joke about the cost of watermelons being fifty cents, and the selling price two for a dollar; the supposition was to get a bigger truck, or to produce more, depending on the origin of the joke.

The reaity is we are doing something very wrong. Yes, we need more medical doctors and others who can provide care here. No, we don't need more training programs, but resources should be spent, not misspent, on making this wonderful state more attractive to retention.

Native Mississippian said...

I have to agree. A doctor friend at UMMC says they are being pushed to the limit. In addition to the pay cut they all took they are scheduled to the maximum and are "encouraged" to book more tests and procedures. And the health department has been cut to the bone. Clinical services are either eliminated or severely slashed. And restaurants are lucky if they are inspected once a year, and many not even that. The number of inspectors simply can't keep up. There is a story in today's Clarion-Ledger about the number of small agencies and boards gobbling tax dollars but have enough clout to keep them untouchable. And let's not forget the MS Development Authority handing out bags of dollars to private enterprise. The list goes on and on, but the fact is we have tough problems and weak leadership.

Anonymous said...

It's like the "opioid crisis",since it mainly effects white folks it's a crisis.When crack destroyed black communities in the 80s they were a bunch of criminals. When it comes to the health statistics, The Phils and Tater figure they should all get a job and pay for their own health care or just do without.

Anonymous said...

Nothing will be done about the opioid crisis.
Too many doctors and drug manufactures involved.
It can't be that hard to see where all of the opioids are coming from.
Hell, people have prescriptions with the doctors name on it.

Anonymous said...

The only difference from a Dealer on the street and these pain management doctors is a college degree.

Anonymous said...

Until MIssissippi's citizens care about their health, it won't matter how much money the government spends...

Anonymous said...

$76 million dollars for a new Medical Center....that serves only to enhance the image of the plantation in Oxford via UMMC. Most of the doctors will graduate there, but not serve Mississippi. $76 Million.....and it goes to name a governor and grow the monster of UMMC.......without really serving Mississippi. That's why we're at the bottom folks. Until we start electing leaders who represent the entire state instead of the well-connected "Ole' Missus" family, then there will be the growing chasm of white shoe Oxford, and the resto us....the help.

Anonymous said...

Under Tater's reign we've gone backward. Anybody but him for governor...please!

Anonymous said...

I thought I just read something about Mississippi doctors being some of the highest paid in the nation. Can't remember where or I would site the article. Can't say that I have seen anything that explains why our local doctors are paid so much.

Our insurance premiums have gone way up at the same time our copay has. It would be cheaper to pay out of pocket but it seems that the local hospital has been buying up all the practices and they don't want cash customers.

Anonymous said...

OK, just one opioid story. Before I moved away from MS after spending 20 wonderful years there I saw a specialist every quarter. I was lucky to get in to see her and loved here attention to detail and ME. I have a very serious and painful condition that has and will continue to deteriorate. I was taking a light as needed pain pill Oxy. It was the only thing that kept me going. On one of my last visits I was told the Feds were cracking down on Oxy scripts and she wanted to move me to Hydracodone. We did and it was/is like taking aspirin. Back home it has gotten so bad no one wants to write a script for either Oxy or Hydro.

Like so many things the Government is involved in, the select group producing the stuff does OK and the bad guys using it they do OK but the people that need it are the ones punished.

Looking for no sympathy just looking at the facts that I am left to deal with.

Anonymous said...

But, but all means, enjoy your tax cuts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what 'Starving the Beast' looks like. The Lt. Gov is very pleased with himself over this fact.

Anonymous said...

A lil weed and Tylenol will take care of chronic pain. And if you wear a back brace (it also acts a griddle and skins your stomach) you don't even get the munches.

Anonymous said...

In the immortal words of Dean Wormer in Animal House-"fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son." Unfortunately, Mississippi has adopted that slogan but as the ONLY way to go through life.

Anonymous said...

Life on the ole plantation hasn't changed that much since the good ole days. Massa still gets his doctors and lawyers to look after his family and their physical and financial needs, as good as anybody in the country, while the darkies... well the darkies they can eat watermelon and sing the blues. This is the home of the blues after all. We doin' just fine.

Anonymous said...

Always remember that whenever Bill Crawford posts anything about health care, good, bad, or indifferent, he must be interpreted through the lens of his ties to the hospital industry, a fact he never discloses. Note his fondness for quoting the Hospital Association leadership. It is what it is.

Anonymous said...

When you elect politicians who would buy a new Cadillac when the roof of their house is leaking, this is what you get.
It's not just about how much or little money you spend, it's about how wisely you spend it.
But, look in the mirror. If you care more about party loyalty than character and judgment and competence, this is what you get.

Anonymous said...

8:25 Agreed. Phil, Tater, Gunn, and the good ole boys who preceded them never made the welfare of the majority of Mississippians their priority but look out for the
well heeled bosses. New Cadillacs for them while the ignorant masses who vote for them can't afford health care.

Anonymous said...

Until Mississippians start to take some responsibility for their health - most of the things that kill us are due to individual health decisions - nothing will change. As a state and as individuals we pay absolutely no attention to the maintenance of health and that's where the issue lies. We need safe parks, sidewalks, bike paths (that are NOT open to vehicles), healthier eating habits, etc. Any time someone suggests healthier diets in our schools "libtard" is thrown around as an insult instead of thinking maybe, just maybe my 7 year old kid isn't supposed to weigh 185 pounds and folks are trying to help me. As long as this state continues to hang our hats on treatment of disease and not disease prevention our habit of being last will continue.

Anonymous said...

5:50, nice ad hominem, but the facts about MS health are not good.

10:06 "Until Mississippians start to take some responsibility for their health - most of the things that kill us are due to individual health decisions - nothing will change."

MSDH would love to be spending money on prevention and education. But the state is run by people who don't think gov't should spend money (unless it's being paid to their cronies).

Anonymous said...

I guess the fact I haven't contracted chlamydia is because of white privilege.

Anonymous said...

Why does this surprise anyone. The newly appointed face of the MS Republican Party is currently working on a transaction that would allow an out of state health system to come in and compete with our Coast Hospitals. The deal allows Miss taxpayer money to pay this system to come in and ship patients back to their main campus. In five years this hospital will be closed, and access will decrease even more.

The party of keeping tax dollars in Mississippi has their leader pushing for the opposite.

Anonymous said...

10:06am - I would bet you could tie the weight increase in youth to the increase of government provided meals at schools pretty neatly. Yet you want more control of food through government? That is why we scream "libtard". It is idiotic to think you can mandate behavior. How about parents feed their kids more healthful foods and use the damn SNAP cards at the grocery vegetable section instead of the quick stop candy aisle?

Anonymous said...

3:02, I’m pretty sure that’s not why you scream libtard, but I’ll go with it. School was one example. Nearly everyone in this state is obese/overweight. Rich, poor, black, white, on SNAP, not on SNAP. But you go right ahead thinking SNAP recipients are the reason for our dismal health indicators and outcomes. No need to apply common sense or research when you’ve got a pocket full of tired insults to fling at folks. Rock on.

Anonymous said... my friend need to think a little deeper than just my SNAP example. The point you missed is that you can't legislate behavior. libtards think you can. what the fuck are you going to do about it? are you going to outlaw sugar? are you going to make SNAP recipients and school lunches adhere to better standards (you're racist if you try). it is a personal choice and a self control issue. just like drugs, the government cant do a damn thing about it and shouldn't.

The big big point is that like every other social problem, it all starts with a personal decision and discipline. the government and people like me or you (disciplined people with their lives relatively together) can't make other people do shit, nor should we want to or have to. libtards still don't get that basic flaw in their thinking. you can't help someone who refuses to help themselves.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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