The program will provide assistance to mostly rural hospitals in the state to ensure that access to healthcare is available even for the most remote communities.
The Mississippi Hospital Sustainability Grant Program, SB 2372, has been established by the Legislature during the 2023 session. The bill, authored by State Senator Kevin Blackwell (R), was intended to strengthen and improve hospital access across the state of Mississippi.
The state’s hospitals, particularly in rural areas, have been in decline for years and were dealt another blow during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grant program, which was appropriated through HB 271, allocates $103 million to be divided amongst 110 of Mississippi’s hospitals. The grants are awarded based on the number of beds and type of care a hospital provides.
The program specifies that under the following conditions a hospital would be eligible to seek funding:
- Each hospital with fewer than 100 licensed beds that is not classified as critical access and operates an emergency department are eligible for up to $625,000 for emergency services.
- Each rural hospital with fewer than 100 licensed beds and is classified as a critical access hospital with an emergency room eligible for up to $500,000.
- Each hospital operating an emergency department with more than 100 beds will be eligible for up to $1,000,000.
- Each hospital with fewer than 200 beds with the majority of those beds providing specialty services eligible for $500,000.
- Each rural hospital with fewer than 100 licensed beds with no emergency department eligible for up to $300,000.
In addition to those funds, any small rural hospital that has 50 beds or less can receive $250,000 in an attempt to defray the costs of providing access to the hospital care.
“It’s no secret that hospitals across the country are struggling from the aftermath of the pandemic. Hospitals are experiencing increasing costs at the same time their seeing a decline in revenue. Mississippi hospitals are no exception,” said Senator Blackwell. “SB 2372 will provide some additional funding for the hospitals in hopes of providing them a little financial relief. Additionally, we are requiring the Hospital Association to put together a study group to take an innovative approach at how hospitals should deliver healthcare services.”
The Mississippi Hospital Association will review all hospital services in the state and continue to make recommendations regarding the changes that are needed to sustain access to healthcare in the state. Those reports are to be made available to the Lt. Governor, Speaker, Chairman of the House and Senate Public Health Committees, with copies sent to the Governor and the State Health Officer.
The largest appropriations among the 110 include Forrest General Hospital ($2.1 million), Mississippi Baptist Medical Center ($2.3 million), North Mississippi Medical Center ($2.3 million), Singing River Hospital ($2.2 million), St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital ($2.2 million), and University Hospitals Health System ($2.4 million).
Most hospitals also received more money based on bed allocation.
The original version of the bill only allowed for $83 million, but initial conversations led to that number being increased based on requests from the Mississippi Hospital Association.