Useless grant program
State lawmakers approved sending millions of dollars to save Mississippi’s struggling hospitals this years, but hospital leaders are running into difficulties trying to access that money.
A third of Mississippi’s rural hospitals are at risk of closure and many of them were counting on the state grants to survive the year. Legislators in February established the grant program -- $103 million to be disseminated among the state’s struggling health care providers.
Hospitals were allocated varying amounts through a formula that accounted for bed counts, hospital designation, emergency rooms and other factors. But there was a hitch: the money wouldn’t come from the state general fund. Instead, it would come from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, federal money that can only be used to cover COVID-related expenses, which many hospital have already claimed and rendering the grant money useless for them.
Some of the state’s larger hospitals might be able to get their hands on some of the money, it’s less likely that the state’s smaller, rural hospitals, the intended recipients of the grants which are in much more dire financial straits. Unless the Department of Health finds out some way to get around some of the issues there doesn’t seem to be an avenue for them to claim any money.