By John Dorschner
Jackson Health System is showing some short-term financial improvement, but huge problems will come next year because of cutbacks made in the just-concluded session of the Florida Legislature, executives said Thursday.
At an unusual public meeting intended to bridge the change from the system’s old governing board to its new one, four members of the new Financial Recovery Board heard that Jackson lost $1.9 million in March – its best monthly performance for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.
“We have a long way to go,” said Marcos Lapciuc, a new board member, “but this report looks positive.”
Patient admissions were up, reversing a long-standing trend, and staff did an “extremely strong” job of collecting from insurers, said Chief Financial Officer Mark Knight. Sales tax collections, which declined in the recession, continue to bounce back. Jackson now anticipates collecting about $15 million more in taxes this fiscal year than it anticipated.
Those facts led to Jackson having 21 days of cash on hand at the end of March – 10 days more than anticipated in its budget.
Through March, Jackson has lost $44.1 million this fiscal year. The upbeat report Thursday means that the year’s projected loss, most recently estimated at $108 million, would be somewhat less, but Knight did not announce a new projection.
The March events happened during the tenure of Chief Executive Eneida Roldan, who left at the end April. The new chief executive, Carlos Migoya, said Tuesday that Jackson faced “some pretty strong headwinds” next year because of the Legislature’s actions.
Knight said the latest estimates indicate that Jackson stands to lose $130 million in state funding in the next year, partly because of a 12 percent cut in Medicaid rates and partly because of changes in the Lower Income Pool, a fund meant to compensate for uninsured patients. Legislators decided to distribute more LIP money to nonprofit and for-profit hospitals, reducing the funds available to government entities such as Jackson, Knight said.
No actions were taken at the meeting because new board members have yet to post bond and be sworn in. The first formal meeting of the board is scheduled for Monday afternoon.
One of the new members, Darryl Sharpton, is a partner in an accounting firm that has the Jackson Health Plan as a client, according to the firm’s website. Sharpton said Thursday he didn’t know details about what his company had done for the Jackson subsidiary, but he thought it was some secondary or subcontracted accounting work. He said his firm, Sharpton, Brunson & Co., wouldn’t seek any new business from Jackson going forward.
Jackson did not immediately respond to a Herald question about how much Jackson had paid the accounting firm over the past three years.