HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Health care continues to be the center of debate on Capitol Hill. Here at home, hospitals are preparing for the changes the Affordable Care Act will bring.
"We're trying to get ourselves prepared for January 1," says Forrest General CEO Evan Dillard. "What it's going to look like for us as a company with one of the largest workforces in the region, we're not really sure."
Dillard says the potential to insure more Mississippians is a positive thing for his hospital as well as the overall health of the state, even though it will initially cost the hospital a set amount of money to make a full transition to comply with ACA.
"I encourage everyone to get health care coverage," says Dillard. "There are too many people that don't receive health care services that need them because they're worried about how they're going to pay for them."
Under Obamacare individuals who are not insured will choose from two providers that will serve Mississippians, with of a range of 22 health insurance plans. Hattiesburg Clinic Executive Director Tommy Thornton says this exchange "could potentially improve access to care" but there are not enough providers to choose from.
"This severely limits our patients' choices," says Thornton. "Also, we are concerned about increased costs and fees Hattiesburg Clinic will bear as a large employer because it will ultimately be an additional expense in premiums for our own employees."
Dillard says the change in coverage for his employees is undetermined at this time, but the care for patients will remain the same.
"We're still going to be taking orders for patient care and for services from physicians," says Dillard. "It's the issue of how you access the care from a financial perspective that's going to require a lot of training on those intake people in our system."
Forrest General is currently training employees with proper techniques for the transition into serving under Obamacare as well as developing methods for assisting patients in understanding and receiving health care.