Sunday, January 18, 2015

Democrats: Refusal to expand Medicaid hurt Singing River

Democratic Trust Executive Director Brandon Jones submitted this column last month. JJ delayed publishing the column until most readers were brought up to speed on the Singing River debacle. 



As the crisis involving Singing River Hospital’s retirement system unfolds there are many unknowns. The recently announced liquidation of its retirement plan has all employees and retirees pondering their future financial standing in the system. Furthermore, this liquidation shows the unstable financial position of one of Mississippi’s most important hospitals. Unfortunately, there are aspects of this crisis that were manufactured by our Governor, Lieutenant Governor and legislature.
 
In the past two letters to retirement plan participants the failure by state government leaders to accept the revamped form of payments to hospitals for uncompensated health care has been listed among the reasons for the liquidation. Code phrases like ”downward pressure on reimbursements” were used to convey this point without angering Gov. Phil Bryant and the legislators who voted to put Singing River Hospital in this precarious position. “Uncompensated care” is healthcare that is borne by the hospital when someone shows up without any means to pay for medical services.
 
We all pay federal taxes. Some of our federal tax money has for decades come back to us in the form of payment to our hospitals for uncompensated care. Now that Gov. Phil Bryant and certain legislators have refused to accept these payments, our federal tax dollars are going to fund uncompensated care in other states.
 
How much is this refusal costing us? Conservative estimates put the amount at 3 million dollars per day across all Mississippi hospitals. In the past 2 years, our Legislature has had ample opportunity to vote to accept our tax money back.  Each time the legislature had an opportunity to accept the return of our federal tax dollars to plug these hospital budget holes, the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker and Republican legislators refused to do so. Now we can see the direct results of these votes.
 
Legislators had the opportunity to support our hospitals, but decided against doing so, even when no alternative was in place. And these aren’t nameless and faceless votes, conducted in secret. These legislators stood up and cast their votes against our hospitals. Attached are the roll call votes that would have allowed Singing River Hospital to continue getting refunds of our federal tax dollars to secure their financial position and to help in the current retirement issues. 

Brandon Jones, Executive Director
Mississippi Democratic Trust

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Jones must think everybody is an idiot. The Singing River debacle was ongoing long before Obama care, apparently a top down/management boondoggle, supported by either an incompetent and/or corrupt board and political support. Furthermore, what will be the result when patients are unable to meet/pay the co-payments and deductibles set-up by Obama care??

Anonymous said...

Mr. Jones must think everybody is an idiot. The Singing River debacle was ongoing long before Obama care, apparently a top down/management boondoggle, supported by either an incompetent and/or corrupt board and political support. Furthermore, what will be the result when patients are unable to meet/pay the co-payments and deductibles set-up by Obama care??

Anonymous said...

Because the purpose of Government is to keep hospitals open so the hospital employees retirement plans will be safe.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pheel, Tater and the Flat Earth Society currently hard at work at the Capitol. At least the Bible will soon be the state book while several hospitals drift perilously closer to bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

There are two different issues here. Stopping the pension funding and lying about it in the financials was straight up fraud.
However, SRHS also projected that some of its bad debt and charity care would be picked up by Medicaid, which did not happen because the state turned down the free money.

Anonymous said...

Brandon is an idiot ... the Hospital's problems are due to criminal actions and nothing else ... Brandon: don't try to turn this into something that is it not ...

Anonymous said...

We can all speculate about what the real causes of the financial crisis are but until the information is extracted from this secret society, we will not know for sure. Some will say KMPG LLC, the company that performed audits for 30+ years and is now being sued by the SRHS, is at fault. Some will say the SRHS board of trustees who sat by idly with eyes covered, should be blamed. Some will say that the ignorant JCBOS, who did not even read the financial info provided, must be held accountable. Even current and past management, who overspent money on everything from shiny new buildings, overpriced doctor's practices, high end out of state retreats for themselves plus much more while at the same time failed to fund the pension, contributed to the financial crisis. Truth is all of the above are under scrutiny and will probably share this one. Only Brandon Jones and his group would blame the resistance to Obama Care as the reason. In the end I predict Chris Anderson and his management team will be held responsible for allowing and/or participating in many conflicts that benefitted a small group of local people but did great harm to the SRHS and the employees, both past and present. He may want to hire Brandon Jones, who is an attorney, to represent him. Jones can make the argument that Gov.Phil Bryant is responsible for the financial disaster, not his client, because Bryant refused to accept federal money that was not available to the state. This money, that did not exist at the time, could have been utilized to fund the pension. This might be the only legal defense the possible participants like Chris Anderson have.

Eggs In One Basket said...

So, if I ran up a bunch of bills in November and December and was counting on my income tax refund to pay them, come April....and I was wrong to assume I was going to get a refund, can I blame it all on the IRS?

That would make at least as much sense as SRH Board 'assuming' medicaid rolls would increase and Mississippi's kickback from the feds would cover their obligations and the money did not roll in so it's the Governor's fault.

Kingfish said...

I'm going to accept every word of Mr. Jones's argument. The pension problems began before Medicaid expansion was available. See the audits. Contributions were cut in 2009. The extra money would help but it is not enough to overcome the $88 million bad debt nor erase the fraud if any did indeed take place.

If Singing River got all of the medicaid money and the hospital appropriation it once received, there would still be an imploded pension system and a huge bad debt masquerading as an asset. In other words, Singing River would still be sinking, just not as quickly.

Anonymous said...

Expansion of Medicaid is nothing more than an infusion of new Ponzi money to chase the bad.

Anonymous said...

Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee is an example of what a good Republican governor can be. Tennessee is one of 10 states with Republican governors and legislatures who are moving forward with an expansion of Medicaid. Hospitals cannot continue to operate and maintain their current level of services when 50% of the patients are uninsured and cannot pay one penny of their bill.

Anonymous said...

Blame it on Boosh! Viva la mechico!

Anonymous said...

Hospitals cannot continue to operate and maintain their current level of services when 50% of the patients are uninsured and cannot pay one penny of their bill.

Link?

Anonymous said...

Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville is reporting net income of over $2 million this past fiscal year, up from the $800k the prior year. I would imagine their mix of Medicaid and non-paying patients is one of the highest in the state. I know they have good management but one should lay their financials next to others in trouble and find the differences.

Anonymous said...

This is coming from the Democratic Trust--they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed. Arguments should be based on facts not political agendas...it is a shame that the guys at DT can't seem to get their facts straight...but what do you expect from a former house member still crying about his loss?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Chris Anderson full in supporting Medicaid expansion? Are Chris and Brandon in bed together??? When does Chris have to show up for his first court hearing? The jail house is calling his name....unfortunately for Chris, expanding Medicaid won't help him fight off Bubba in cell block A.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Delta Regional made money by ending contracts with some doctors and reducing access to services for uninsured and dumping them on other hospitals. From the DRMC FY 2014 audit
ER visits dropped 16%
Inpatient discharges dropped 9%
Surgeries dropped 6%
Outpatient visits dropped 4%

Anonymous said...

If federal Medicaid money is so bad why aren't MS Republicans proposing to take the state out of the program entirely?

Anonymous said...

... reducing access to services for uninsured and dumping them on other hospitals.

Link?

Anonymous said...

Delta Regional Medical Center audit:
http://www.dacbond.com/dacContent/doc.jsp?id=0900bbc78014000e

"The most significant impact [in the increased profit] was a reduction in overall operating cost related to contract services."

That is all they say about it, but the fact that ER visits dropped by 16% shows that is where they cut back services - the place where the uninsured seek care.

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