Some county health clinics in Mississippi may soon be closing their doors for good. The state department of health needs an additional 18 million dollars before the end of this fiscal year.
State health officials went before members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee in Jackson, yesterday, asking for 18 million dollar to help reduce a shortfall in this fiscal year's budget. The agency is hurting financially due to a reduction in Medicaid payments and low healthcare fees in recent years.
State health officer Doctor Mary Currier says if lawmakers don't address the deficit, the department may need to close some clinics.
"If we don't get a deficit appropriation of $18.5 million, it will be a less strategic and more meat-cleaver chopping of our services at the local level," Currier says. "Now, I don't have a crystal ball but I don't see how we're going to get out of this without having to closures of clinics."
Last year, lawmakers gave the state department of health about 37 million dollars, making up about 11 percent of the agency's total budget. The remaining 300 million came from fees, the federal government, grants and the state's tobacco settlement.
While the department has already taken steps to solve the budget crisis, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves says it's unlikely the state will fund the deficit.
"Well, I don't think any one should be optimistic when they ask for a deficit request that's about 65 percent of their general fund appropriation." says Reeves. "They admitted they felt like it was in large-part a cash-flow issue more so than a budget issue. So we'll work with them to try to figure out how we can get them to a point to make the necessary cuts in their budget that they need to make."
In addition to the 18 million dollar deficit the department is currently facing--they are requesting an additional 4 million dollars for next year’s budget.