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  • Paragon Health Services

2022 Mississippi Legislative Healthcare Round Up

With the 2022 session of the Mississippi legislation now in the rearview mirror, a few notable decisions were made in the healthcare arena. As hospitals and healthcare workers continue to struggle with growing demand and lagging resources, much remains uncertain when it comes to helping Mississippians live as well and as long as possible. Much work continues to be done.

UMMC $50 Million Improvement Funding Veto

Mississippi got $1.8 billion from the federal government as part of the pandemic recovery money dispersed from the federal government. The Legislature earmarked $50 million of the money to go to the University of Mississippi Medical Center for improvements. The expenditure was vetoed by Gov. Tate Reeves.

In his comments on the veto, Reeves said that lack of staffing, rather than lack of beds, was the more important issue at UMMC and other hospitals. In August of 2021, UMMC, with money and staff from Samaritan’s Purse, opened two field hospitals in parking garages on the campus. This is at the height of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state from the Delta variant.

Law Banning COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

The Legislature passed a law that was signed by Reeves banning state and local agencies from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine in order to receive services or get a job. The new law also prevents requiring the vaccine to attend public schools. Mississippi currently requires five other vaccines for children attending public school in the state.

Postpartum Medicaid Benefits to End

A proposal to extend Medicaid coverage for postpartum care failed in the Legislature. The measure would have extended coverage from 60 days to a year. Under current conditions, moms who have recently given birth will have to seek care without the Medicaid safety net at day 61. About 60 percent of births in Mississippi are covered by Medicaid. Coverage under the federal health insurance program was extended for seriously ill prisoners in the state.

Medical Marijuana

By June of this year, the State Department of Health will start accepting applications for people and businesses that want to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program. The Department will accepting applications for:

• patients

• medical practitioners

• cannabis cultivation facilities

• cannabis processing facilities

• cannabis testing facilities

• cannabis waste disposal entities

• cannabis transportation entities

Once the application process begins, there will be a 30-day approval time for licensure applications, and a five-day approval time for program patients. The State Department of Revenue will license medical cannabis dispensaries in the state.

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