Shelby County Commissioners discuss MED's future

By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Commissioners urged the Shelby County Delegation to ask the state government for additional funding to keep the struggling MED afloat.

The MED's board said Monday they need millions in new funding or the emergency room might close.

"The state should give us the money we deserve," Mike Ritz, a Shelby County Commissioner said.

Commissioners voted to give the MED $10 million, which will come from county reserves.

"We have a $10 to 12 million current shortfall at the MED," said Ritz, "and a $32 million continuing annual shortfall ... not including the need for an additional facility.

With the rising cost of healthcare, private premiums are also increasing.  Patients who can no longer afford health insurance turn to the hospital's emergency room for primary care.  But when patients can not pay their bills, the MED's budget takes a hit.

Henri Brooks, a Shelby County Commissioner, said closed the MED's ER could be disastrous.

"It's a trauma center and it covers patients in several states," Brooks said.  "We know they don't all pay, but if there's a disaster, with the MED's doors closed where will the people go?"

Commissioners are now hoping to help the MED pull it's way out of crippling debt and get its budget under control.

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