Some funds are expected to be in the Pemiscot Memorial Health Systems bank by August 28th, but administrators admit that it will not be the fix that stops lay-offs that have been underway for the last week. According to the Democrat Argus, the one point one million dollar check was gained with the help of State Representative Steve Hodges and Christy Mercer, an aide to Senator Claire McKaskill. Many of those laid off are just beginning to receive their unemployment benefits.
The funds are money that the hospital was already owed in state payments, however many liens had been put on those funds by the retirement system, Missouri Lagers, and several other entities. Those liens were relieved so that the hospital could use the funds to make payroll and begin making payments. Actually, the hospital should have only received $250,000 after obligations.
Hospital employees have mixed reactions to the news. “I am glad we don’t have to wait to get paid this week,” said one employee, who because she has not been laid off did not want her name used, “But what about each payday after that? What about our insurance bills that are not being paid, what do we do about that?”
Several months ago the hospital told employees that they would have to pay six percent of their income for insurance. Since the hospital is self-insured, they not been reimbursing doctors or pharmacies for the employees’ expenses. This has resulted in some employees not being able to receive services, but still having the funds withheld from their checks. Further infuriating the employees and community was the announcement that some Hospital trustees receive their health insurance free.
Missouri state statutes allow for a political subdivision to provide health insurance to Board members and family members, but some employees and community members are questioning whether providing it for free is acceptable while employees must pay six percent of their salary.
A meeting was held to a packed room Monday night. According to the Democrat Argus,PMHS CEO Jack Pennington announced other cuts to save on expenses.
One area of contention was the hospital turning over billing services to Hospital Board member’s Glenn Haynes’ company. Pennington announced that Extended Health Services had submitted a letter of to withdraw from those services and the billing would be moved back in house. That move alone is expected to save the hospital $400,000 to $500,000 a year.
Prayer vigils were held before the meeting asking for intervention and a way to save the hospital. A petition is also circulating asking Attorney General Chris Koster to investigate the handling of the retirement funds and many more are asking for an investigation into possible conflict of interests between Board members and the facility. Some state officials and others continue to push for a state independent audit. According to reports, Representative Hodges’ office has asked the Governor to call for a state audit of the facility.