Jackson Health 'on a disastrous course' after missing out on COVID-19 relief aid, CEO says

Jackson Health System, a safety-net system based in Miami, has recorded losses of $78 million this year and has been shut out of federal funding meant to help hospitals hardest hit by the pandemic, according to the Miami Herald.

The six-hospital system received $75 million in COVID-19 relief aid made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act, but the money has run out as the number of cases in Florida continues to rise. Though the federal government has made additional funds available to safety-net providers, Jackson Health did not receive any of those funds. This has put the system "on a disastrous course" financially, President and CEO Carlos Migoya wrote in a July 15 letter to local, state and federal elected officials. 

"We cannot allow the moment in which Jackson is reaching its highest public health calling also be the moment that crumbles its hard-earned financial foundation," Mr. Migoya wrote, according to the report. 

Safety-net hospitals that reported an operating margin of more than 3 percent in 2018 did not qualify for the recent distribution of federal relief aid. Though Jackson Health reported a $30 million surplus in 2018, HHS calculated it as a $150 million profit. Using HHS' calculation, which included reimbursements the system received through bonds for an expansion and renovation project, the health system's margin was too high to qualify for relief aid, Jackson Health CFO Mark Knight told the Miami Herald

Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., said HHS made a mistake, and she's working to get it corrected.

"They just made a mistake in criteria they used, which made the safety-net hospitals look wealthier than they are," Ms. Shalala, former secretary of HHS, told the Miami Herald. "The truth is they were doing it too fast and they weren't careful and as a result we got hurt, and there's no excuse for that." 

Other safety-net hospitals in Florida were also shortchanged, Justin Senior, president of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, told the Miami Herald. He said the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville and Tampa General Hospital were also shut out of CARES Act funding, which they should have received. 

Read the full Miami Herald report here

More articles on healthcare finance:
16 recent hospital credit rating downgrades
HHS to distribute $4B in COVID-19 aid — here's how much hospitals in each state are getting
New York hospital refiles for bankruptcy

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