The Delta Health Alliance has paid an average of $272,000 the past four years for an administrative contract with the Delta Council.
Those figures are spelled out in DHA tax returns.
In 2008, DHA paid Delta Council $293,630 for administrative services. In 2009 and 2010, that number dropped to $275,000. For the fiscal year that ended June 30,2011, DHA paid Delta Council $246,125.
In a phone interview in late November, Delta Council executive vice president Chip Morgan told the Mississippi Business Journal the economic development organization provided back-office services for the nonprofit DHA, which provides healthcare for the poor in the Delta.
Roy Campbell III, a Jackson attorney who represents DHA, said in an email that Delta Council has provided accounting and management services that “have included general bookkeeping and accounting services, payroll and check writing services, internal auditing and procurement services, logistics and administrative support for meetings and events, and community liaison work.”
The CEO of DHA, Dr. Karen Fox, is under investigation by Mississippi’s Northern District U.S. Attorney for possible misuse of agency funds. It’s unknown if DHA’s contract with Delta Council is a part of that investigation. Her attorney has said he’s confident Fox will be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Although DHA’s website lists Morgan as an active board member, Campbell said Morgan has not served on the board since 2007, when DHA first issued a request for proposals for accounting and management consulting services.
Of the three responses to the RFP, Campbell said, Delta Council’s was the lowest, coming in at roughly $275,000 annually. The other two, from companies Campbell did not name, were $500,000 and $552,000 annually. Campbell said DHA’s contract with Delta Council is for five years.
Morgan did not respond to calls and text messages to his cell phone last week.
Since 2006, most of DHA’s funding has come via a competitive grant process administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Campbell said DHA does not receive its funding through direct appropriations, and the agency has not paid anyone to lobby for funding on its behalf.
In 2006, an appropriation bill for HRSA included $25 million for DHA. A continuing resolution in 2007 stripped funding for the agency. Funding was restored via a provision in the 2008 farm bill that created a USDA Health Care Services competitive grant program that authorized an annual appropriation of $3 million from 2008 to 2012. DHA has successfully competed for some of that funding, which was open to counties in the Mississippi River Delta, according to a spokesperson for Sen. Thad Cochran.
Also in 2008, Cochran was instrumental in securing a $25 million earmark from HRSA for DHA, in the form of a grant. In 2009, Cochran used the same method to secure $26 million for DHA; in 2010, he secured $35 million.
The money dried up in 2011 and 2012, as part of a moratorium enacted after the 2010 midterm elections, when Republicans whose platform included eliminating earmarks won a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cochran spokesperson Chris Gallegos said records that charted who Cochran met with, or who may have lobbied for DHA’s funding, were not available.
“Over the years, the Cochran office has worked with a number of officials associated with the Delta Health Initiative, just as the senator’s office works with other constituents and groups from Mississippi,” Gallegos wrote in an email. “The exact dates, times and attendees of such meetings over the past six years are not available. Sen. Cochran is, of course, supportive of thorough oversight and accountability for the proper use of all federal funds.”