They ‘get it’ in Madison County

From USM College of Health: One of the most economically exciting areas of the state is Madison County, north of Jackson. By sheer coincidence, the Madison County Business League hosted a health care forum, “The Pulse of Madison County,” less than a week after CoH and a group of partners/co-sponsors produced our own Mississippi Health Summit at the Southern Miss Trent Lott Center on April 29. Rick Duke, TLC director, invited me as his guest to attend the forum, and I’m very glad I made it.

The League rolled out some heavy hitters to speak on one or another aspect of health care at the national, state and county levels – Marianne Hill, senior economist at the IHL; Sam Cameron, CEO of the Mississippi Hospital Association; insurance commissioner Mike Chaney; Mary Currier, chief Mississippi State Health Officer; and Murray Harber, WebMD Wellness Coordinator, among them.

The collective message (at least as it hit these ears) echoed key themes of the Health Summit:

  1. Mississippi is in bad shape and faces a frightening future if it fails to confront squarely its rapidly building health care crisis.
  2. The “big” system of health care is badly broken, and won’t mend well until we can (a) guarantee a steady supply of qualified health care professionals to support it; (b) extend coverage to everyone who needs it; and (c) turn serious and sustained attention to the “prevention” side of the health and wellness spectrum.
  3. Health care is a powerful economic driver – providing high-paying jobs, spurring wealth creation across a broad range of economic activity, and offering an attractive inducement for businesses to locate and stay put.

It’s probably safe to say that the 200-or-so attendees at the Forum are, politically, a generally conservative lot – certainly no fans of regulation, mandates, or costly “big government” programs. But I think they heard the message on health care and what it means to the economic well-being of Madison County, Mississippi, and the US of A. And if they’re getting it, it means the message is gaining valuable traction.

Published by Michael Forster on May 9, 2011