The Mississippi legislature has passed a bill that will allocate over $100 million to struggling rural hospitals.
With 28 hospitals in the state on the brink of full closure, lawmakers have passed Senate Bill 2372, authored by Senator Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, to establish the Mississippi Hospital Sustainability Grant Program.
Included in the grant is $103.7 million which will be divided amongst each hospital licensed by the state of Mississippi, except for hospitals operated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and hospitals operated by the State Department of Mental Health.
The program will allocate money to hospital systems that meet the following criteria:
- Each hospital that has fewer than 100 licensed beds and that is not classified as a critical access hospital that operates an emergency department shall be eligible to receive $ 625,000 to defray the costs of providing emergency department services.
- Each rural hospital that has fewer than 100 licensed beds and that is classified as a critical access hospital that operates an emergency department shall be eligible to receive $500,000 to defray the costs of providing emergency department services.
- Each hospital that operates an emergency department and that has more than 100 licensed beds shall be eligible to receive $1 million.
- Each hospital with fewer than 200 licensed beds with the majority of such beds being dedicated to providing specialty services such as women’s health services, long-term acute care, rehabilitation, or psychiatric services shall be eligible to receive $500,000.
- Each rural hospital with fewer than 100 licensed beds with no emergency department shall be eligible to receive $300,000 to defray the costs of providing access to hospital care in rural communities.
- Each small rural hospital with 50 beds or less which operated an emergency department shall be eligible to receive $250,000 to defray the costs of providing access to hospital care in rural communities.
In addition, Senate Bill 2371, a grant for community college nursing and allied health programs and hospital residency and fellowship grant providing start-up costs to create new or add capacity in existing programs in medical or surgical specialty areas at Mississippi hospitals, passed both the House and Senate in conference. Senate Bill 2323, legislation allowing community hospitals to collaborate and consolidate facilities and services with non-profit or other similar entities, has also passed both chambers.
Both bills await a signature from Governor Tate Reeves.
Senate Bill 2373, a hospital nurse loan repayment program that would award new nurses who agree to work in a Mississippi hospital up to $6,000 each year for three years ($18,000 total) to go toward any outstanding student loan debt, was signed into law by the governor.
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