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Bill to create Delta health authority passes Senate with no Democratic support

As Mississippi continues to face an ongoing hospital crisis, lawmakers in the Senate have passed legislation to remedy some of the issues faced in the Delta.

With many healthcare facilities in the area facing financial turmoil and running the risk of imminent closure, Senate Bill 2713, colloquially known as the Mississippi Rural Regional Health Authority Act, was approved by the Senate in a 32-17 vote. The legislation creates a regional authority to manage the operations of participating community hospitals and would allow medical facilities under that umbrella to collaborate, share resources, and draw down an estimated $40 million in Medicaid funding.

Public, private, and nonprofit healthcare providers would be able to partner up under the supervision of the Delta Regional Health Authority, created by the bill, to maximize the efficiency of resource usage by the facilities to promote better patient outcomes in the region.

“This bill is all about the money. These hospitals are struggling to stay open. These hospitals disproportionately are on the verge of collapse,” bill author Sen. David Parker, R-Olive Branch said. “This will allow these hospitals, should they choose to do so, to collaborate together to try to deliver healthcare in a more effective way and in a way that can benefit the people in these areas.”

The Delta Regional Health Authority would begin with an organizational board consisting of three members appointed by Governor Tate Reeves and two appointed by Lt. Gov. Delbert Hoseman with the consent of the Senate. Three of the members would be required to be residents of the Delta while all five must be qualified Mississippi residents who reflect the racial and ethnic demographics of the region.

The members of the organizational board of the authority would be responsible for the formation, organization, and implementation of the regional health authority and would be tasked to serve in that capacity until one or more community hospitals have agreed to join the authority.

Once multiple hospitals have joined the group, the organizational board would be converted into an operational board. As many as six additional members would be permitted to be brought in

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