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Pearl River County could lend $3 million to hospital

A south Mississippi county could lend more than $3 million to a local hospital.Pearl River County supervisors are seeking proposals to borrow the money after Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home in Poplarville asked them to refinance a debt it owes to a federal agency, The Picayune Item reported.

The hospital was required to pay back $5.9 million to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the newspaper reported, after the federal agency found a previous management firm inflated bills.

The hospital has paid down some of the debt, and CEO James Williams said the remaining $3.2 million carries a 10.75% interest rate, which the federal agency is collecting by withholding monthly Medicare reimbursements. Williams asked supervisors to borrow at a lower interest rate, with the hospital repaying the county.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said he believed the county could borrow at 4.5% interest. Lumpkin said interest on a loan from the county would be eligible for reimbursement from Medicaid. The hospital cannot get reimbursed for the interest on the current loan payments, because they are being made to Medicaid, Lumpkin said.

The hospital’s revenue dropped from $20 million in 2016 to $17 million in 2017, but Williams said it’s expected to increase by 6% above 2016’s revenue in the current budget year.

Williams said he plans to add additional services at the hospital to increase the hospital’s revenue, such as an MRI machine and an outpatient unit for behavioral and mental health.

The hospital is one of two serving patients in the county, along with Highland Community Hospital in Picayune.

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