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Leflore County Supervisors appropriate $2.25 million to the Greenwood Leflore Hospital; 10 mill additional levy of property taxes may be considered

Monday, November 21, 2022, 8:39 pm News Flash Archive

At today's special meeting, the Board of Supervisors heard statements from GLH CEO Gary Marchand, Mr. Sam Odle (the consultant hired by the board), Congressman Bennie Thompson, State Senator David Jordan, and State Legislator Solomon Osborne.

The meeting was called to discuss the dire financial crisis that threatens to close GLH, which has almost completely run out of cash to pay its employees and bills.

Near the end of the meeting, the board went into executive session for further discussion.

After returning to open session, on motion made by District 1 Supervisor Sam Abraham, the board voted to appropriate $2.25 million to GLH. There was no mention made of where this money would come from.

However, earlier in the meeting, Sam Abraham asked whether the legislature can change the law to allow Leflore County to levy up to 10 mills of additional property tax to help fund the hospital.

Mr. Marchand sketched the effects of COVID on the hospital's financial situation. Even though GLH received more than $35 million in grant funds, it had to burn through essentially all of its $20 million cash reserves in order to pay premium prices to contract nurses at over double the cost of local nurses. Marchand advocated expanding Medicaid, changing the reimbursement formula for small rural hospitals, and trying to get GLH designated as either a Rural Emergency or Critical Access hospital, which would improve Medicare reimbursement rates. Marchand stated that 75% of the patients at GLH were covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or no payment, and that both Medicare and Medicaid paid the hospital less than the cost of providing the services to those patients.

Mr. Odle echoed much of Mr. Marchand's statement. Odle also suggested that GLH would have to find ways to rent some of its unused space to other medical providers to generate more revenue.

Congressman Thompson spoke about the possibility of getting a waiver to allow GLH to become a Critical Access hospital, even though it does not presently qualify under the federal rules. He reminded the board that there were other hospitals in the state in similar desperate financial trouble. He recommended that public pressure be put on the state legislature and on the governor to make changes, including expanding Medicaid. He warned that the workforce would be decimated if the hospital closes. Thompson suggested that the state legislature should require Medicaid to pay the same as Blue Cross pays.

City Council member Ronnie Stevenson asked whether the hospital and the city and county could file a lawsuit against the state.

Senator Jordan described the hearing today in Jackson where GLH's woes were discussed by Senator Hob Bryan's state senate committee. The fear is that somewhere around 24 hospitals might have to close within the next year or two. Jordan blamed GLH's financial crisis on Governor Tate Reeves for refusing to expand Medicaid.

Sam Abraham asked whether the state could recoup the Medicaid money that has been lost over the years due to the state opting out of expansion. Congressman Thompson stated that only future expanded Medicaid money can be received. Thompson repeatedly suggested that the public needs to get an initiative to place Medicaid expansion on the ballot. But the initiative system has been tossed out as unconstitutional by our state supreme court.

Mayor Carolyn McAdams exhorted everyone to call Governor Reeves and demand that he approve expansion of Medicaid.

Sam Abraham asked whether the legislature can change the law to allow Leflore County to levy up to 10 mills of additional property tax to help fund the hospital.

Supervisor Reginald Moore joined Stevenson in advocating that Leflore County sue the state for money to keep GLH open. He said that such a lawsuit is "critical" to save healthcare in Mississippi.

State Legislator Solomon Osborne decried the fact that his bills to expand Medicaid never even get out of committee. Osborne said that it would be a surprise to him if the legislature is ready to take any action. He repeatedly claimed that the Republicans are blocking progress that would help poor people in Mississippi. He decried the fact that the legislature approved $250 million in economic incentives, but won't help us keep our hospital. He pointed out that the initiative process is not an option at this time. He said that the legislature is the worst place he's ever been in terms of trying to get some progress.

Mr. Odle stated that the hospital administration has been very cooperative with his research efforts.

Mr. Marchand told Supervisor Robert Collins that it would take $3.5 to $6 million in gifts from the city and county in order for the hospital to stay open through March 2023.

Mr. Marchand stated that the attempt to get UMMC to lease the hospital is over and completely done.

City Council member Johnny Jennings asked what one issue torpedoed the UMMC possibility. Marchand answered that he really doesn't know why UMMC withdrew from the negotiations.

Video of this afternoon's meeting may be seen here: Leflore County Board of Supervisors Meeting, November 21, 2022

To review our reporting on GLH and its financial woes, please see here: Index of Greenwood Leflore Hospital news articles

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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