The state Board of Health unanimously approved a new health plan for the state at its monthly meeting Wednesday.
The state health plan is a blueprint composed by the Mississippi Department of health that acts as the primary center planning document for the healthcare needs of the state’s population. The existing health plan for the state dates from 2020, which used data from fiscal 2016.
The new plan uses data from fiscal 2020 and the existing plan was updated with the new data. It will be come effective after it is filed with the Secretary of State’s office, which acts as the recordkeeper for all regulatory actions.
By law, the health department is required to publish a new health plan every three years.
The board also approved the legislative agenda. One of those items is a request for $12.5 million for the renovation of the Underwood Building. Last year, the Legislature appropriated $6 million of the $18.5 million the department says it will cost to be able to use 85,500 square feet of currently unusable office in the building. The department is asking lawmakers for the remaining $12.5 million.
The department will also ask lawmakers for $2.5 million for the Local Governments and Rural Water Systems Improvements Revolving Loan Fund. This fund received $3.2 million from lawmakers last year and provides loans to municipalities and counties for improvements to water infrastructure.
Mississippi is one of 35 certificate of need states, meaning that providers must seek approval from the health department for any capital-related project such as building a new facility and adding beds or diagnostic equipment to any existing facility. State health department officials decide whether to issue a certificate of need based on the state health plan.
The health department also will ask lawmakers to reauthorize the Mississippi Qualified Health Center grant program, which will expire on July 1 if not reauthorized. These repealers, as they’re known, are often done in three- to four-year increments to force lawmakers to revisit a program and possibly make changes. The program was passed in 1999 and is designed to provide grants to healthcare centers for providing care to uninsured or indigent patients.
The board also got an update on the COVID-19 Delta variant surge, which has crested and is starting to recede. As of October 12, there were 719 new positive test results for a total of 496,851 cases with 26 new COVID-19 related deaths, with 16 of those occurring between October 2 and October 11. There have been 9,900 deaths in Mississippi from COVID since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.