The MED's Funding Hits Roadblock by Arkansas Legislators

April 3, 2007 - Posted at 5:49 p.m. CDT

MEMPHIS-In times of need they've always been there, but could Arkansas' relationship with the MED could be in trouble.

"If we didn't begin to take care of some of our own trauma cases, and give them support when we could for the cases they would continue to hopefully take, that they couldn't financially shoulder the burden," said Rep. Denny Sumpter.

For years, the MED in Memphis has struggled financially.   That comes partly due to Arkansas.

"We're the only state without a level 1 trauma center. We are one of three that doesn't have some kind of network put in place to get places to where they need to go when they are in a traumatic accident."

So when Representative Denny Sumpter of West Memphis proposed legislation that would raise money to help fund the state's expenses with the MED, most thought it would easily pass.

However, safety was cut short by the State Senate and dozens of lobbyists.

"It's just an example of how when you put politicians together in a room, that you are not going to get the best decisions. You are going to get local interest over state interest, even if it cost a life," said Sumpter.

Every year the MED, in Memphis, treats about 18-thousand patients. Out of that number about 4-thousand visits come from the state of Arkansas, and 2-thousand of those end up requiring long term care.

Financially that's a big burden to the region's only level one trauma center.

In 2006, Arkansas accounted for 8 percent of the MED's total charges.

28% of those charges were to those without insurance.

All together, Arkansas costs the MED nearly one-million dollars a month.

"They are eventually going to have to say, I'm sorry, we're not going to fly the helicopter over to Arkansas. The day that happens is when Arkansas finally wakes up and realizes we just can't do it without establishing this network," said Sumpter.Representative Sumpter's plan would have increased insurance premiums by a quarter of a cent.

He says considering how many tax cuts we've made, it's sad something so small can't save lives.

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