Mississippi hospitals got an extra $658M in Medicaid funds: How did local centers benefit?

Published 1:05 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

Gov. Tate Reeves’ Medicaid payment changes distributed more than $658.2 million to hospitals in January, including more than $282,000 for Jefferson Davis Community Hospital.

The funds are part of Reeves’ alternative to Medicaid expansion, which was announced in November 2023 after he won re-election. Reeves said he had requested changes that would bring in nearly $700 million to state hospitals, based on extra payments hospitals can receive for treating patients on Medicaid.

In January, the Mississippi Hospital Access Program distributed the $658.2 million to 116 hospitals, with hospitals in Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Marion and Covington counties receiving more than $2 million:

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• Covington County Hospital, $621,656.04.

• Jefferson Davis Community Hospital, $282,283.52.

• Lawrence County Hospital, $269,393.92

• Marion General Hospital, $877,061.68.

Reeves’ plan increases the “bed tax” on Mississippi hospitals; in exchange, the hospitals can draw down more in federal Medicaid payments. The concept was introduced two years ago by hospital and GOP leaders in the Legislature, but failed to gain traction after Reeves’ Medicaid administration said it would not work.

Some hospital leaders have said this money, while needed, leaves unresolved the disproportionally high number of uninsured, working-class Mississippians who earn above the federal poverty level and cannot qualify for Medicaid but also cannot afford insurance. Medicaid expansion will increase the qualifying income threshold to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that would be an annual income of $43,056.

Proponents of the expansion cite the fact that nearly one in five Mississippians are uninsured, and the state continues to have some of the nation’s worst public health rates, including having the lowest life expectancy in the country.

Click here to see how the $658.2 million was disbursed in January.