Note: The problems at Singing River Health System (Jackson
County) continue to mount. The Sun-Herald has been breaking stories
about the troubled hospital system since November. It is important to
start from the beginning, so JJ is posting stories about this fiasco
starting from several weeks ago, to give readers the history of this
The Sun-Herald reported on January 15 that Singing River CEO claimed that losses for the health system were shrinking:
Singing River Health System chief Kevin Holland said the system's turnaround plan is working and is cutting the financially troubled system's losses.
Holland, who was named CEO in March, told the Rotary Club here SRHS lost about $1.9 million in the first three months of the fiscal year, which could mean an annual loss of about $8 million. The system lost about $35 million the previous year, he said.
"When we learned about this we were two months into fiscal year '14," he said.
"As y'all know if you run businesses, you don't turn around a 32-, 33 -million-dollar loss in a five- or sixth-month period."
The system's turnaround plan includes "maximizing efficiencies and cost savings," renegotiating contracts, cutting spending and working on a plan to deal with its underfunded pension.
"I am open, and this organization, this board, is open to any solution that anybody comes up with. I welcome the county help to try to come up with a solution to salvage the pension plan in a way that allows us to preserve as much of it as we can, and also allows the organization to continue forward in a financially viable state," he said.
The pension, he said, has about $136 million in it but has liabilities of $277 million......
Holland asked the Rotarians to stand behind the system, and call him if they hear something "that doesn't sound right."
Holland said the state's failure to expand Medicaid, the state-federal program that pays for medical care for the poor, was part of the problem. Low-incoming working people, who could have joined Medicaid under the expansion, are among those who receive care at the hospital but can't pay their hospital bills. He said 35 percent of the people who come to Singing River emergency rooms are "unfunded."...
He also said the reimbursement from the government for treating people on Medicaid and Medicare is shrinking.
"Medicare and Medicaid are breaking the system," he said. "It's very challenging for the federal government and local government to continue to pay for a burgeoning amount of health care services."
He said at Singing River, about 60 percent of the hospital's reimbursement come from Medicaid and Medicare.
"We don't have one bit of say-so in the rates we get paid by the feds for Medicare services and at the state level for Medicaid services," he said.
Hospitals also have been hit with a tax to help pay the cost of Medicaid.
"In 2009, we didn't pay a dime of state Medicaid tax," he said. "Last year, that was $11.2 million. That's just a straight tax."
That money goes to the state to help it match federal Medicaid funds,
More employers are cutting back on health-care coverage, giving some employees deductibles they can't afford.
"It's harder for us to collect from individuals than it is to collect from insurance companies," he said. But, he said, the hospital won't turn away someone because they can't pay. Rest of article and video.