1998 Regular Session

To: Public Health and Welfare

By: Senator(s) Gordon, Huggins

Senate Bill 2312



SECTION 1. Section 41-3-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

41-3-15. (1) There shall be a State Department of Health which shall be organized into such bureaus and divisions as are considered necessary by the executive officer, and shall be assigned appropriate functions as are required of the State Board of Health by law, subject to the approval of the board.

(2) The State Board of Health shall have the authority to establish an Office of Rural Health within the department. The duties and responsibilities of this office shall include the following:

(a) To collect and evaluate data on rural health conditions and needs;

(b) To engage in policy analysis, policy development and economic impact studies with regard to rural health issues;

(c) To develop and implement plans and provide technical assistance to enable community health systems to respond to various changes in their circumstances;

(d) To plan and assist in professional recruitment and retention of medical professionals and assistants; and

(e) To establish information clearinghouses to improve access to and sharing of rural health care information.

(3) The State Board of Health shall have general supervision of the health interests of the people of the state and to exercise the rights, powers and duties of those acts which it is authorized by law to enforce.

(4) The State Board of Health shall have authority:

(a) To make investigations and inquiries with respect to the causes of disease and death, and to investigate the effect of environment, including conditions of employment and other conditions which may affect health, and to make such other investigations as it may deem necessary for the preservation and improvement of health.

(b) To make such sanitary investigations as it may, from time to time, deem necessary for the protection and improvement of health and to investigate nuisance questions which affect the security of life and health within the state.

(c) To direct and control sanitary and quarantine measures for dealing with all diseases within the state possible to suppress same and prevent their spread.

(d) To obtain, collect and preserve such information relative to mortality, morbidity, disease and health as may be useful in the discharge of its duties or may contribute to the prevention of disease or the promotion of health in this state.

(e) To enter into contracts or agreements with any other state or federal agency, or with any private person, organization or group capable of contracting, if it finds such action to be in the public interest.

(f) To charge and collect reasonable fees for health services, including immunizations, inspections and related activities, and the board shall charge fees for such services; provided, however, if it is determined that a person receiving services is unable to pay the total fee, the board shall collect any amount such person is able to pay.

(g) To accept gifts, trusts, bequests, grants, endowments or transfers of property of any kind.

(h) To receive monies coming to it by way of fees for services or by appropriations.

(i) (i) To establish standards for, issue permits and exercise control over, any cafes, restaurants, food or drink stands, sandwich manufacturing establishments, and all other establishments, other than churches, church-related and private schools, and other nonprofit or charitable organizations, where food or drink is regularly prepared, handled and served for pay; and

(ii) To require that a permit be obtained from the Department of Health before such persons begin operation.

(j) To promulgate rules and regulations and exercise control over the production and sale of milk pursuant to the provisions of Sections 75-31-41 through 75-31-49.

(k) On presentation of proper authority, to enter into and inspect any public place or building where the State Health Officer or his representative deems it necessary and proper to enter for the discovery and suppression of disease and for the enforcement of any health or sanitary laws and regulations in the state.

(l) To conduct investigations, inquiries and hearings, and to issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of books and records at any hearing when authorized and required by statute to be conducted by the State Health Officer or the State Board of Health.

(m) To employ, subject to the regulations of the State Personnel Board, qualified professional personnel in the subject matter or fields of each bureau, and such other technical and clerical staff as may be required for the operation of the department. The executive officer shall be the appointing authority for the department, and shall have the power to delegate the authority to appoint or dismiss employees to appropriate subordinates, subject to the rules and regulations of the State Personnel Board.

(5) (a) The State Board of Health shall have the authority, in its discretion, to establish programs to promote the public health, to be administered by the State Department of Health. Specifically, such programs may include, but shall not be limited to, programs in the following areas:

(i) Maternal and child health;

(ii) Family planning;

(iii) Pediatric services;

(iv) Services to crippled and disabled children;

(v) Control of communicable and noncommunicable disease;

(vi) Child care licensure;

(vii) Radiological health;

(viii) Dental health;

(ix) Milk sanitation;

(x) Occupational safety and health;

(xi) Food, vector control and general sanitation;

(xii) Protection of drinking water;

(xiii) Sanitation in food handling establishments open to the public;

(xiv) Registration of births and deaths and other vital events;

(xv) Such public health programs and services as may be assigned to the State Board of Health by the Legislature or by executive order.

(b) (i) The State Department of Health shall transfer the twenty-six (26) regional home health agency licenses issued to the Department of Health as they existed on December 31, 1993, according to the 1993 Report on Home Health Agencies Appendix B, to any county-owned acute care hospital as described in Section 41-13-10(c) and (d) that has fifty-three (53) or fewer acute care beds as stated on the hospital's license as of January 1, 1996, that applies for said license. Any hospital that currently holds a home health license or operates under the license of another home health agency through contractual arrangement, or has previously held a home health license but has sold, transferred or otherwise disposed of its license on or after December 31, 1993, or is owned or leased as part of a multi-hospital network arrangement as defined in Chapter 9 of the 1996-1997 State Health Plan shall not be eligible to receive any of the licenses to be transferred. The license transferred to any qualifying hospital shall be limited to the county in which the hospital is located. One (1) regional license shall be transferred to a hospital located in Wilkinson County and shall license said hospital to Wilkinson County. No qualifying hospital shall transfer the license, or if the qualifying hospital is leased or sold, the license shall be void and of no further effect. Any regional home health license issued to the Department of Health for which no application has been made by December 31, 1998, shall be void and of no further effect. Upon transfer of any license or if no license is applied for, the State Department of Health home health regions shall no longer exist. The Board of Health shall adopt rules and regulations establishing the procedure to be used for transferring the department's home health agency licenses as authorized in this subparagraph by October 1, 1998. Any employee of the Bureau of Home Health Services or the State Department of Health will have preference over other equally qualified applicants for home health services employment positions at the publicly owned hospital providing home health services under authority of this subsection. The department shall charge a filing fee as set by the board not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for processing applications for transfers of its home health agency licenses.

(ii) The Department of Health shall retain and utilize its statewide home health license as it existed on December 31, 1993, to continue operations until such time as the home health operations are phased out. The department shall take such actions necessary to phase out its home health operations, in order to completely discontinue the performance of home health operations no later than December 31, 1999. Such statewide license shall expire and become void as of January 1, 2000, and shall not be transferred, sold or otherwise disposed of under any conditions.

(iii)  * * * This paragraph (b)(i) shall not prevent the board or the department from closing or terminating the operation of any home health agency owned and operated by the department, or closing or terminating any office, branch office or clinic of any such home health agency, or otherwise discontinuing the providing of home health services through any such home health agency, office, branch office or clinic, if the board first demonstrates that there are other providers of home health services in the area being served by the department's home health agency, office, branch office or clinic that will be able to provide adequate home health services to the residents of the area if the department's home health agency, office, branch office or clinic is closed or otherwise discontinues the providing of home health services. This demonstration by the board that there are other providers of adequate home health services in the area shall be spread at length upon the minutes of the board at a regular or special meeting of the board at least thirty (30) days before a home health agency, office, branch office or clinic is proposed to be closed or otherwise discontinue the providing of home health services.

(c) The State Department of Health may undertake such technical programs and activities as may be required for the support and operation of such programs, including maintaining physical, chemical, bacteriological and radiological laboratories, and may make such diagnostic tests for diseases and tests for the evaluation of health hazards as may be deemed necessary for the protection of the people of the state.

(6) (a) The State Board of Health shall administer the local governments and rural water systems improvements loan program in accordance with the provisions of Section 41-3-16.

(b) The State Board of Health shall have authority:

(i) To enter into capitalization grant agreements with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, or any successor agency thereto;

(ii) To accept capitalization grant awards made under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended;

(iii) To provide annual reports and audits to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, as may be required by federal capitalization grant agreements; and

(iv) To establish and collect fees to defray the reasonable costs of administering the revolving fund or emergency fund if the State Board of Health determines that such costs will exceed the limitations established in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended. The administration fees may be included in loan amounts to loan recipients for the purpose of facilitating payment to the board; however, such fees may not exceed five percent (5%) of the loan amount.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.