Cleveland, Miss. (Greenwood Commonwealth) – Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann says any hospitals in Mississippi that aren’t able to draw all of the state emergency funding intended for them this year will get it in 2024.
“In January whoever didn’t get the money is going to be funded. At least from the Senate side, we’re going to fund the remaining amount of money,” the Republican said Friday in Cleveland, where he was attending the annual meeting of the regional economic development organization Delta Council.
The Legislature allocated $103 million this year as part of Hosemann’s plan to save financially endangered hospitals, such as Greenwood Leflore Hospital. Hospitals were allocated varying amounts through a formula that included bed counts, hospital designation, emergency rooms and other factors.
The Greenwood hospital, which has been weeks away from running out of cash at points this year, is expecting $924,000 from the emergency state funding when it becomes available after July 1.
The funding, as reported by Mississippi Today, has run into a snag because it is coming from American Rescue Plan Act money allocated to the state by the federal government rather than from the state’s general fund.
ARPA money, doled out to help local and state governments and other public entities cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, can only be used to cover pandemic-related expenses, under federal regulations.
Many hospitals have already claimed those reimbursement dollars and can’t ask for them again under the newly created hospital grant program.
The situation has produced frustration among some hospital administrators, who have until June 30 to apply for the state grant money.
“I don’t know who came up with the bright-eyed idea to use ARPA money,” Paul Black, CEO of Winston Medical Center in Louisville, told Mississippi Today. “If they did, they definitely did not understand what this meant to the program.”
The rural hospital crisis in Mississippi was a major point of emphasis at Friday’s meeting of Delta Council. One-third of the state’s rural hospitals are considered at risk of closing because of their ongoing operating losses and declining cash reserves. The crisis is particularly acute in the Delta, health officials and experts say.
When asked Friday whether any hospitals might not be able to make it until January due to the delay in getting the state grant money, Hosemann said he had not heard of any.
“They haven’t called me about that,” said Hosemann, who is facing a reelection challenge in the August Republican primary from state Sen. Chris McDaniel.