Natchez will get part of $200M in health funding

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2001

A Medicaid program means big bucks for Mississippi hospitals including Natchez Community Hospital and Natchez Regional Medical Center.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approved an application last week from the State of Mississippi’s for the Medicaid Upper Payment Limit Classification.

The measure provides the state’s hospitals with an extra $200 million per year in Medicaid reimbursements, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said Thursday.

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&uot;That’s great news,&uot; said Gary Marti, assistant administrator of finance of Natchez Regional Medical Center, about the approval. &uot;The (Mississippi) Hospital Association has pushed this for years and finally got the governor to go through with it.&uot;

Retroactive to April until the end of the fiscal year in September, the hospital would most likely receive about $600,000 this year but figures have not been finalized, Marti said.

Kay Ketchings, spokesperson for Natchez Community Hospital, said her facility would also benefit but figures were not available.

The program is designed to offset cuts in Medicare reimbursement – a major loss to rural hospitals.

&uot;It allows us to continue to provide services and offset some of the decreases we’ve seen in past years (with) various programs.&uot; Marti said.

Marti said he did not expect the program to be approved so soon.

&uot;There was a meeting at the hospital association in June … At that point they thought we’d hear in September,&uot; he said.

The State submitted its Medicaid Upper Payment Limit application in March with the approval of the state Legislature.

&uot;This is a huge victory for rural hospitals, particularly those performing maternal and child health services,&uot; Cochran said.

The reimbursements are needed to help hospital’s serve the state’s low-income population.

&uot;With Medicaid many hospitals, particularly our rural hospitals, could not afford to remain open,&uot; Cochran said.

&uot;I know this new eligibility will provide even more resources to combat the health care problems facing our residents and to allow greater investment in the hospital facilities that do so much for our communities.&uot;