As Jackson's cash days trickle away, commission talks of doing something
By Ashley Hopkins
With just two weeks of cash on hand and an expected $413 million budget gap heading into 2012, Jackson Health System officials may be unable to make payroll without $67 million in assistance from the state and county. But despite the bleak outlook, hospital officials say the worst may be yet to come.
In a report Tuesday to the county commission's Public Safety & Healthcare Administration Committee, Marcos Lapciuc, the newly-appointed chairman of the Public Health Trust, said that if things don't turn around, the hospital could be left with just five to eight days of cash on hand by September.
Should Jackson receive both a $32 million advance on future Miami-Dade sales-tax revenues and the $35 million in stimulus funding the state is currently holding, the hospital could end the year with 13 to 14 days of cash on hand, still short of the 17 that is required to ensure that hospital employees receive paychecks.
"If we don't get the county advance and the $35 million" the state is withholding, Mr. Lapciuc said, "then, Houston, we have a problem."
Jackson's financial crisis stems in part from state budget cuts.
The hospital stands to lose $219.6 million in proposed Senate cuts and $54.7 million through the House, said Eneida Roldan, outgoing chief executive officer of Jackson Health System.
According to Mark Knight, chief financial officer of Jackson, when worst-case scenario reductions are taken into account, the $107 million loss expected by the end of 2011 could result in a $413 million gap at the onset of fiscal 2012.
An ever-declining patient volume has also left the cash-strapped hospital counting change.
While Jackson officials have tried a number of cost-saving initiatives, Mr. Knight said the efforts haven't pulled in as much revenue as expected due to declining patient volume.
In-patient admissions are down more than 10% since last year, which Mr. Lapciuc said could result $12 million to $18 million in monthly losses.
"That is cash that is leaving the system forever," he said.
While asking that the county commission consider all that could be done to improve Jackson's financial stability, Commissioner Javier Souto questioned what was being done to add patients.
"We need a miracle," he said. "The state has no money, we don't have the money. Who has the money? We need the patients."
Barbara Jordan supported Mr. Souto, calling fellow commissioners into action. As the hospital has been "in crisis" for more than four years, she recommended that the commission stop reacting and start actively working to correct the problem.
"It's time for the commission to do something," Ms. Jordan said. "Senator Souto is absolutely right. We have not been willing to get things done when it comes to Jackson."
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