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Front Page » Top Stories » Jackson Health System One Big Problem Several Solutions

Jackson Health System One Big Problem Several Solutions

Written by on April 22, 2010

By Risa Polansky
A special Miami-Dade commission meeting is in the works to continue hashing out Jackson Health System oversight policy.

The commission has devoted hours to discussing the struggling health system and the fate of its governing board, with lawmakers proposing a slew of legislation meant to set up a procedure for handling future mishaps.

Jackson lost a reported $244 million last fiscal year and has been working to combat a deficit projected as high as $229.4 million this year.

County commissioners put governing body the Public Health Trust on watch last month after considering killing the body altogether, leaving the trust in charge but with county officials keeping an eye out.

Meanwhile, several proposals for future action have been floating around.

The commission deferred five Tuesday, opting instead at Chairman Dennis Moss’s suggestion to hold a to-be-scheduled special meeting to continue what have been lengthy talks.

Lawmakers have outlined a commission-sponsored measure they may flesh out and act on at the upcoming meeting.

The legislation as-is would authorize the commission "to take assistive measures" should the health trust hit certain troublesome benchmarks, including missing debt payments because of lack of funds, failing to pay employee wages or retirement benefits for a pay period, or taking a county advance to support operational needs, among others.

Under the draft legislation, if any of those "have occurred or likely will occur," it would be up to the commission to make the call whether the trust "needs assistance to resolve or prevent the condition."

County "assistive measures" could include management watch, a required recovery plan, a required audit, an oversight board and more.

To complete the framework legislation, "the Commission needs to determine the specifics of each assistive measure," documents note.

Individual lawmakers have also proposed similar measures set to be taken up at the upcoming special meeting, though the commission has said the intent is to develop the collaborative measure and focus on that.

One variation by Commissioner Carlos Gimenez would, should the trust hit any of the trouble spots, create a seven-member oversight board that would act as the governing body of the health trust for up to two years.

A version by Commissioner Barbara Jordan would allow the commission to assign technical experts or county officials to assist a board that would oversee the health trust for up to two years.

A Commissioner Joe Martinez measure proposes giving the commission veto authority over health trust actions should any of the financial issues occur or appear likely to.

And Natacha Seijas suggests forming a "transition board" to act as the governing body of the health trust for up to two years if financial conditions deteriorate.

Chairman Moss named April 29 as a potential meeting date, but that’s yet to be made official.