Miss. Health Dept. requests more money for FY13

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — The Mississippi Department of Health is requesting a 15.5 percent increase in state funding for the coming year.

It joins a list of agencies asking for more money in tight budget times.

Dr. Mary Courier, the state health officer, told lawmakers Wednesday that Mississippi faces a long list of familiar public health challenges, many of them tied to poverty.

The state has the highest death rate in the nation because of heart disease. It also has the highest obesity rate, the highest infant mortality rate and the second-highest rate of adults diagnosed with diabetes.

For the current budget year, which ends June 30, the Health Department is receiving $26.5 million from the state general fund. Courier is requesting $30.6 million for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1.