JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County residents packed the supervisors' board meeting to hear a breakdown of the Singing River Health System's financial statements for 2014 from its new accounting firm. Last year, Horne LLP discovered the health system's former auditor overestimated the amount of money it would collect from uninsured and underinsured patients by $88 million.
Supervisors wasted no time firing questions at Kade Moody, of Horne LLP, about the 2014 audit report. Bottom line: The health system is operating in a deficit. In 2013, it lost around $32 million and nearly $35 million in 2014. The hospital pension plan was also under funded by more than half at the close of last year. Supervisor John McKay asked the firm to go into detail about the millions in errors the firm uncovered before this audit that hammered the health system's finances.
"Is the difference between your audit that discovered the $88 million in accounts receivable from KPMG? Would you care to say what the differences were and why you came up $88 million lower than what they did," asked McKay.
"I appreciate your question, but I can only comment on the audit we have in front of us," said Moody.
After Monday's meeting, some in attendance said they were hoping to get more financial facts about the pension plan status, but walked away with nothing.
"This audit was after they have had a chance to fix the problems, some of them. It is not an accurate picture of what happened," said resident Kitty Aguliar.
Some of the supervisors admit they also didn't get many of their questions answered.
"I think we were expecting a little bit more than he may have thought to do," Supervisor Melton Harris said.
"The problem with an audit, it's usually six months past the time that it covered, so it is really old information, but it confirms what we have been told about last year's budget," said Supervisor Troy Ross.
Health system officials said this year's finances are looking better, thanks to cost cutting measures. McKay said he is pleased with the progress.
"They have made a marked improvement in the overall operation of the hospital system, and they got some more to do to get that daily cash balance up, so there are going to be some more tough decisions they have to make in order to get the hospital system profitable like we all want it," McKay said.
Health system CEO Kevin Holland released this statement:
The audit report was formally presented to the Board of Supervisors today by Singing River Health System's audit firm, The Horne Group. There were no surprises in the audit report, as we had previously reported the approximate $35M loss for FY 14 some time ago, as well as posted the audited financial statement on our public website. As noted in our State of the System report for this available fiscal year—also available online—we have reduced our losses through the first six months of this year to $4.8M through an aggressive turnaround plan. We continue to make progress towards restoring the financial health of Singing River Health System.