Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has been promoting his role in addressing the state’s health crisis, but many are questioning his actual impact. Reeves, who is running for reelection, has recently begun taking credit for various health policies, such as a student loan repayment plan for nurses and the Mississippi Hospital Sustainability Grant program, both major parts of Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s plan to help the state’s struggling hospitals. However, given that Reeves has historically opposed Medicaid expansion and didn’t announce his first major health care policy until 47 days before the November election, his role in these policy measures remains unclear.
Fact-Checking Governor Tate Reeves’ Claims on Mississippi Health Crisis Management
A recent TV advertisement assures Mississippi voters that Tate Reeves can be trusted to tackle complex challenges such as the state’s ongoing health crisis. However, the extent of the first-term governor’s involvement in critical policy measures over the past year remains unclear.
Despite Mississippi hospitals’ struggles leading to department closures and staff layoffs, Reeves’ only significant healthcare policy announcement came 47 days before the November election. This announcement was notably after his Democratic rival, Brandon Presley, made the hospital crisis a focal point of his 2023 campaign.
A recent analysis by Mississippi Today sought to verify the accuracy of claims made by Reeves and his campaign staff about his role in addressing the state’s healthcare crisis. Here’s a summary of the findings.
Leadership Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Reeves’ communications director, Hunter Estes, claimed that the governor successfully “led the state through COVID.” However, Mississippi experienced severe challenges during the pandemic, including pushing hospitals to the brink of closure, leading the nation in COVID-19 deaths, and ranking among the worst in the world for COVID-19 caseload. These issues arose despite recommendations from the state’s health leaders, often disregarded by Reeves.
Postpartum Medicaid Extension
Contrary to Reeves’ team’s claims, the governor did not initially support the postpartum Medicaid extension, a policy extending healthcare coverage for new mothers on Medicaid from 60 days to one year. Reeves only publicly approved of the policy after Mississippi Medicaid’s director, Drew Snyder, a Reeves appointee, recommended it.
Nurse Loan Repayment Plan and Healthcare Worker Training
While Reeves claimed credit for the student loan repayment plan for nurses and hospital residency programs, these initiatives were mainly introduced by Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. Despite signing these bills into law, it is not evident what other roles Reeves played in these initiatives.
Mississippi Hospital Sustainability Grant Program
The Mississippi Hospital Sustainability Grant program, which Reeves has touted as a measure to improve healthcare, has faced multiple challenges since its introduction. The program’s funding, sourced from federal pandemic relief funds, has not yet been accessed by any hospital.
One-time Supplemental Medicaid Payout
Lastly, while the $137 million one-time extra payment to hospitals constitutes a significant change in Medicaid payments, Reeves’ direct involvement in this change remains unclear.