By Barbara Harris

Jackson Advocate News Service
Jackson, Mississippi

February 3, 2005

(Tchula, MS) On its Wednesday edition, ABC’s “Good Morning America” broadcast co-anchor Robin Roberts’ long-awaited interview with embattled Tchula, Miss. physician Dr. Ron Myers. The interview was broadcast during the 8:30 a.m. segment of the popular morning show.

Myers’ GMA appearance had previously been scheduled to air several times, but was overshadowed by news of the Asian tsunamis, California mudslides, violence in Iraq and presidential inauguration. The Mississippi Delta, where Myers practices, is one of the nation’s most economically depressed and medically neglected regions.

“The Mississippi Delta is often called America’s Third World,” Roberts, a Mississippi native, acknowledged.

Myers, 48, was forced to close health clinics in Tchula, Greenville, Belzoni and Indianola on Jan. 1 after the Mississippi Medical Assurance Company refused to continue his malpractice insurance coverage. MMAC is responsible for providing medical malpractice insurance to about 90 percent of the state’s doctors and holds a virtual monopoly on coverage.

Myers said the insurer took issue with his refusal to allow its risk management team access to patients’ records without written permission from the patients. “They can’t force me to violate doctor-patient confidentiality privileges,” he said recently.

MMAC officials declined to appear on camera but issued a statement implying that Myers was an uninsurable risk. However, Myers contends no malpractice claims have been filed against him in his 17 years of practicing medicine in the Mississippi Delta. The closure of the four clinics leaves 3,000 poor and shut-in patients without medical care and the lack of malpractice coverage essentially renders Myers unable to practice medicine.

“I can’t see my patients,” an annoyed Myers exclaimed during a recent Jackson Advocate interview. “I feel terrible that there are sick people out there that I can’t treat.”

Talking about the clinic closures reduced Myers’ wife Sylvia to tears during the emotional GMA interview. Roberts pointed out that Dr. Myers’ classmates chose to practice in more lucrative areas of the country and acknowledged the sacrifices Myers and his family must make to maintain existence in the Mississippi Delta.

She also praised Myers as “a dying breed – a doctor who makes house calls.” During her visit in late December, Roberts rode along with Myers on house calls where he treated and prayed with ailing patients.


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