PHM Bill heads to Governor | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

PHM Bill heads to Governor

House Bill 1115, the bill that would make the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi's appropriation of $20 million annually come from the Legislature, was concurred with on March 20th. I voted to concur.

As an advisory board member for PHM-Hinds County, I personally know how accountable the partnership has been with their funding, and how successful it is. This measure would clarify the concern the governor has had in making sure the Legislature has a say in the funding of the program. The Senate felt they needed to add language to make sure the PHM was audited and that those audits be made public. The patnership was already doing that, but the House felt the langauge was not detrimental and decided not to put it in conference. It would prove that the governor was right about his concerns, but a number of GOP legislators voted against the measure.

Their argument is that one, the case concerning the PHM is still in litigation, and two, giving to this non-profit violates the constitutional provision of giving to a private entity. The provision in question is Section 66 of the Mississippi Constitution:

"No law granting a donation or gratuity in favor of any person or object shall be enacted except by the concurrence of two-thirds of the members elect of each branch of the legislature, nor by any vote for a sectarian purpose or use."

HB 1115 should allow for that vote to take place on an annual basis, even though all appropriations bills are passed with a simple majority. Another point is that some Republicans feel that the PHM funds should be placed in the Health Care Trust Fund to maximize our Medicaid match. History will tell us that is not a good practice, as Governor Mabus found out when he used that excuse to close our three charity hospitals.

It will be interesting to see if the governor vetoes this bill.

Previous Comments

ID
170248
Comment

Update: As you know, the governor vetoed the PHM bill. Today, it was sent back to the Public Health Committee. I spoke to the MLCC to get the facts straight on Haley's inference that the grant given to our foundation, FEED, was politically motivated. Don't think it swayed any votes to override but my comments were greatly appreciated by the group. Right now, we need five GOP votes to override. We have to make a decision in two more days to override or sustain the guv's veto.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-03-29T01:01:42-06:00
ID
170249
Comment

Mr. Fleming: Hello and goodwishes. The Partnership (PHM) is nothing more, nothing less than a scam, "walking around money" as they say on election day, i.e. "bribe." This money is totally unaccounted for. It is overwhelmingly given to black and Democrat organizations and churches. Why? Are blacks and Democrats the only folks who smoke? This money is used for WHAT?.....No one knows. Some of it sends kids to NYC to act in plays. Some of it buys church robes. Some (a lot) of it goes to organizations with names such as "100 Black Men of the Delta," "100 Black Men of Jackson." What do these organizations do with the money? What does the "Black Caucus" do with $600,000 each year? Why doesn't the "Republican Caucus" get any money? What does the attorney general of Mississippi do with his hundreds of thousands of dollars sent to him by Mr. Moore to continue his "shadow government?" Does any of it go to "100 White Women of Madison County?" Let me organize "100 White Doctors Against Smoking." Can we get a milion dollars or so? Of course not. Big Brothers/Big Sisters--more "walking around money" being wasted in the black community for Mr. Moore's goodwill. This money is used by Mike Moore to spread goodwill ("buying votes") throughout the black and Democrat community. Period. End of sentence. This money belongs to the taxpayers of Mississippi. It belongs in the Medicaid appropriations fund, should be matched by tripled federal funds, and appropriated by Medicaid and the legislature for MEDICAL needs. This money does not belong to Mike Moore, his shadow government, and the black/Democrat community to use in any way they see fit. As a medical care provider, and as a taxpayor, I'm furious about this fraud and abuse. I can't wait to see Mike Moore relieved of this money, and for the citizens of Mississippi to receive what is their due. Neither you, Mike Moore, Dickie Scruggs, nor other recipients of these ill-received payouts can justify the continuation of the present system. It is a scam. Nothing more (Moore), nothing less. Respectfully, HDMatthias, MD

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2006-04-01T13:34:23-06:00
ID
170250
Comment

Mr. Fleming: BTW, send me a COMPLETE audit of the PHM. Down to the penny. Let me know, as a taxpayer and physician where/how every cent is spent. I'd love to see THIS! Of course, it will NEVER happen. Put your money where your mouth is. HDMatthias, MD

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2006-04-01T13:38:52-06:00
ID
170251
Comment

MD: Whoa, Doc! First things first. Give me an address to send you a copy of the audit and I will make sure you get one. The PHM has been audited independently to account for every dime. It has won awards for its efforts to cut down teenage smoking. As for FEED, the foundation has received funds from the PHM for four years. It received $650,000 last year. They applied for the grant, just like everyone else interested in getting one. If the "100 White Doctors Against Smoking" wanted to apply for the funds, they would have to set up a 501 (c) 3, draft a proposal, and apply for the funds. FEED has set up after-school programs, scholarships, tobacco prevention programs and assisted in funding school nurses, impacting positively over 100,000 children in 37 counties. If the "100 WDAS" is willing to do something of that magnitude, then step up to the plate. As for the real crux of your displeasure of the PHM, think about the arguments people had when President Bush first initiated the Faith-Based Initiative. Many critics thought it was just a ploy to get African-American preachers to convert their membership to the Republican Party. I did not see it that way. I saw it as an opportunity for the full faith and credit of the US Government to fund community-based organizations to pull people out of despair and become less of a burden on society. I am still a board member of the Mississippi Faith-Based Coalition for Community Renewal, as well as being an advisory board member of the PHM-Hinds County. I think both organizations are doing great work in the communities across Mississippi despite the political misgivings.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-04-02T11:01:40-06:00
ID
170252
Comment

MD: Wait, I'm not finished, can only put so many words per post. I had a conversation with a GOP colleague, whom I respect greatly, similar to your concerns. I told him that Mississippi political history would dictate that if Mike Moore really wanted to play his political card with the PHM, money would flow freely everywhere, not just to folks he thought was his core base. In all the debates concerning the cigarette tax, it was mentioned that a disproportionate number of the smokers in this state were African-American, so it makes sense for the PHM to target those areas. However, I am not naive to political opportunism. Whether it is Moore or Bush, it would be crazy for them not to capitialize on something they created, if they so choose, for political gain, that is the nature of this business. But when the Governor in his veto message stated that he wanted to create a new organization to deal with tobacco cessation, that really sounded political to me. Not to mention the fact he is viewing Moore as a possible opponent in 2007. Finally, if we did what you said about putting the PHM funds in the Medicaid budget, two things could happen. One, Medicaid could make a decision not to fund the PHM due to rising medical costs. Two, the PHM could turn around and ask for $80 million instead of $20 million, since their funds were used to help Medicaid attain its nearly 4-1 match in federal dollars. Neither scenario is a desirable one for legislators to deal with, so we offered a solution and the governor vetoed it.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-04-02T11:18:34-06:00
ID
170253
Comment

Your response about smoking decreases in the state of Mississippi are wrong. According to the CDC, smoking has NOT diminished in Mississippi since the PHM began. You failed to answer the question of why the majority of the money goes to Democrats, black churches, organizations, and communities. This fund should be used for healthcare, not for giving underpriveleged kids a place to play and hangout after school, nor for churches to have non-medical programs for their kids. And by the way, if the churches and organizations really wanted to do something for the healthcare of Mississippi, they would tell their young men and women to stop having sex, and/or stop making babies for the rest of us to take care of forever. Why do I never hear this taught from the pulpit? Whatever happened to adoptions (scarce to non-existent, especially among blacks), disgrace, and scarlett letters. Babies having babies and never getting married is the root cause of 90% of our state's problems, social, educational, and medical. Tobacco pales to this problem. I'd be happy to receive the non-governmental audit of PHM. Send to One Roses Bluff Drive Madison, MS 39110

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2006-04-02T11:25:53-06:00
ID
170254
Comment

MD: One more thing, if you don't want to post your address here, you can e-mail it to me. My legislative e-mail address is [email][email protected][/email]

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-04-02T11:33:26-06:00
ID
170255
Comment

MD: Thanks for the address. It sounds like you have already made a judgment on it before receiving it, but that's ok. It is the accountability instrument you are seeking.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-04-02T11:37:37-06:00
ID
170256
Comment

Thanks so much. Just thinking....why was there NOT a state government audit? HDM

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2006-04-02T11:45:29-06:00
ID
170257
Comment

MD: The funds were set-up for tobacco prevention. The court ruled that separate fund should be created for that sole purpose. The court's error was that it should have been given to the Legislature instead of directly to the PHM, but the parties involved signed off on it. The monies we have been getting for the settlement are the funds that are earmarked for healthcare, but as you know, we hijacked them for a couple of years due to the budget shortfalls. As for the purpose of the churches and what is really the problem in the African-American community, I don't think you can quantitatively say ninety percent of our problem is teenage pregnancy. I can't defend the churches per se, but as an individual, I am involved in organizations that deal with all of the problems you have mentioned. In addition to the aforementioned boards I serve on, I am an abstinence educator by profession and I serve on the Mississippi Families for Kids board that deals with the adoption issues in our state. All of the groups I am involved with have a faith-based outreach to get the message through to the Christian community, white and black. How the church community responds will be up to them, but so far I can see progress. POC, I stated the PHM has won awards for its efforts. As to the actual numbers, it was reported there was a decrease here amongst teens as far as smoking, but I don't have the latest numbers in front of me. (POC=point of clarification)

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-04-02T11:53:27-06:00
ID
170258
Comment

MD: Because it is a non-profit, not a state agency. When I worked for New Horizon Ministries, we received a Dept. of Human Services grant for $150,000, but we were not subject to a state audit. We conducted an independent audit, which they were provided.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-04-02T11:56:48-06:00
ID
170259
Comment

Rep. Fleming: Perhaps we should take this discussion off-line. My e-mail is [email][email protected][/email] I have so many things to say about the psycho-medico-pathology of the black and poor white community. HDM

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2006-04-02T13:57:39-06:00
ID
170260
Comment

HDM: That's fine. You have my e-mail address. Feel free to tell me what is on your mind.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-04-03T01:56:01-06:00
ID
170261
Comment

Fleming-- ...non-profit, not a state agency. When I worked for New Horizon Ministries, we received a Dept. of Human Services grant for $150,000, but we were not subject to a state audit. We conducted an independent audit, which they were provided. Actually, all DHS funding documents to outside organizations include language that DHS has the right to call for their own audit of an program activities funded by the agency--regardless of the program organization’s nonprofit or government status. All recipients must conduct an independent audit and supply that documentation to DHS but DHS also reserves the right to audit the organizations project books if they feel there is a need.

Author
Rex
Date
2006-04-03T08:57:25-06:00
ID
170262
Comment

Thanks, Rex. That helps me make the distinction between a mandated audit, like what MD was seeking for the PHM, and what you described as a discretionary audit, which is currently standard procedure. All non-profits should audit their books, at every two years, to stay attractive to potential contributors. People have the right to know where their dollars are going. I think the PHM has done that quite well.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-04-04T09:26:10-06:00
ID
170263
Comment

Representative Fleming: Thank you for sending me the alleged "audit" of the PHM by Tann, Brown, and Russ. Lld. This alleged audit of 8 pages of nothing regarding a $20 million expenditure is, quite frankly, ridiculous. This "audit" has NO specifics regarding how all these millions of dollars were spent. If I were these accountants, I would be very embarrassed. I intend to send this "audit" to The Clarion-Ledger (surely they have it already), the Northside Sun, the Biloxi Sun, Paul Gallo, Governor Barbour, the Attorney General of Mississippi, my Senator Walter Michel, and my Representatives Rita Martinson and Bill Denny.

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2006-04-07T16:36:04-06:00
ID
170264
Comment

MD: All of those persons and entities mentioned have a copy, so there is no need for redundancy. As for the audit, it is what it is. If the OSA did the audit, it would look exactly the same. Just go the website of any state agency or the OSA and look at an audit if it is posted. I don't believe you will see much difference. But I am glad to know you did receive it.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-04-10T20:11:10-06:00

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