Lawmakers may authorize the Attala County Board of Supervisors to lease Montfort Jones Hospital to Jackson-based Mississippi Baptist Health Systems.
The House Ways and Means Committee passed House Bill 1418 Wednesday. It would also allow Attala County to borrow up to $5 million to pay hospital operating debts that Baptist won't assume. Baptist will pay debt associated with an expansion.
Rep. Jason White, a West Republican, says a property tax increase isn't planned to cover the debt.
Democrats alleged that the hospital is in trouble because Mississippi hasn't expanded the Medicaid program, but White says he's unsure that's true. Montfort Jones closed its intensive care unit and laid off 40 workers in 2014.
The bill also allows the county to sell the hospital or place it in bankruptcy.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)