Claiborne hospital awaiting U.S. dollars

Published 11:26 am Wednesday, October 10, 2012

PORT GIBSON — Claiborne County Hospital is in fair condition but badly in need of an injection of Medicare reimbursements, county officials said Tuesday, nearly three months after the county took control of the facility.

“The hospital is doing about as well as we expected,” said District 2 Supervisor Charlie Norrell. “Financially is where our headaches have been most.”

The cure for those headaches is more than $500,000 in federal Medicare reimbursements that currently are tied up in Washington, D.C., said Charles Rhodes, who serves as attorney for the board of supervisors.

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The hospital lost its Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement numbers when the county voided the lease of Patient’s Choice Hospital, managed by Tupelo-based Rural Healthcare Developers Inc, Rhodes said. Medicaid automatically was renewed but Medicare reimbursements have been tied up in red tape, he said.

“We have to go though a bureaucratic process to get it back,” Rhodes said.

Money used to cover the cost of operating the hospital had been slated for use by other county departments later in the calendar year and will be given back to those departments once the hospital receives the federal reimbursement, Rhodes said.

“They haven’t had to cut back on any county services,” Rhodes said.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson toured the hospital Tuesday to assess its needs and see how to expedite the Medicare reimbursement process.

“Since this is the only facility in the county, they need to get it as soon as possible,” Thompson said.

Rural Healthcare Developers began leasing the hospital in 2008, but the lease was canceled July 25 following nearly two years of nonpayment, Rhodes said.

Jefferson County Hospital CEO Jerry Kennedy has been retained to act as administrative consultant for Claiborne County Hospital.

In September, a federal judge sentenced Rural Healtchare Developers CEO Ray Shoemaker to 55 months in federal prison, a $10,000 fine and three years’ post-release supervision on six counts related to a kickback conspiracy centered on Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville.

A federal jury in February convicted Shoemaker of 10 counts of a 12-count indictment.