TO: Singing River Health System Pensioners
FROM: Tiffany Murdock, CEO, Singing River Health System
DATE: August 8, 2022
Singing River Health System Retirees,
As you have no doubt heard, our Singing River leadership, Singing River Board of Trustees, and Jackson County Board of Supervisors agree that the time is right to sell our health system.
This decision comes after a very long and thorough process to explore all options, always with our patients, nearly 4,000 team members, and retirees in mind. In a nutshell, the costs for capital, operations, staffing, pension funding, technology, and expertise are needed to continue providing high-quality care which far exceeds what a county-owned system could ever deliver for the long term. This would require raising county taxes year over year, which no one wants to see. We must find a like-minded, larger health system partner to secure our future. Our best option is to take that leap now – while we are in a position of strength.
The impact of this collective decision is far-reaching and we are working diligently to explain how we got here and where we go next. As a retiree, you should know that a sale of Singing River would not jeopardize your pension payments; in fact, a sale to a larger and financially stronger partner would better secure future funding of the settlement. It is important to note that the pension settlement fund is supported strictly by Singing River contributions, not by Jackson County taxpayers.
We encourage you to look over the findings shared by the Raymond James Company, an outside consulting firm hired by the County to evaluate the financial health of Singing River. The Raymond James Company echoed what the Singing River leadership and Board of Trustees already knew – that the only way to ensure sustainable, high-quality healthcare in the communities we serve is to sell to a larger organization. That report is available on the Jackson County website at www.co.jackson.ms.us and here on the SingingRiverRetirement.com website.
It is important for everyone to study this issue for themselves and know the facts around it. Please check out the attached “Frequently Asked Questions” and contact us if we can provide more information. Our key objective is to preserve this outstanding system that you helped build, and we hope to have your support. We will keep you informed as this process continues.
Chief Executive Officer
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why sell and why now?
Singing River is in a position of strength, attractive to potential buyers, and able to dictate the best terms to assure a solid future for our patients, team members, and retirees. We have reached a point in our history where the costs of delivering the very best care to our community will soon far exceed what a county-owned provider could ever deliver for the long term (even if county taxes were increased at the maximum rate). A sale to a like-minded partner allows for an increase in purchasing power, payer negotiations, and economic impact.
How will our Pension be protected if the system is sold?
One of the absolute “non-negotiable” requirements for any potential buyer is to first honor our commitment to the Pension settlement trust fund. Proceeds from a sale would go straight into the trust fund to maintain payments for the life of the plan, pursuant to the terms of the settlement.
Would it be better for Retirees if the county retained ownership of Singing River?
Outside healthcare experts and industry trends (including some hospital bankruptcies in our own state) show that continued county ownership is likely NOT better for retirees, employees, or the patients who count on us for their care. Increasing costs for daily operations, buildings, equipment, drugs, and staffing would require an enormous taxpayer burden and would still be insufficient to maintain our current operations and protect the pension commitment.
It is important to remember that the pension settlement fund is not backed by county tax dollars, it is backed strictly by Singing River’s ability to fund it. Selling Singing River to a strong partner now will ensure the pension payments are protected and will be a requirement for any sale.
Will management of the Pension change if the system is sold?
Management of the pension settlement trust fund is in the hands of the Chancery Court of Jackson County. The court has appointed Special Fiduciary Traci Christian to oversee the plan and any changes would be decided by the court.
Would a new buyer change our Pension payments?
A new buyer would have absolutely no say so over the pension plan, all decisions around the plan remain up to the Chancery Court and the court-appointed Special Fiduciary.
Where can I learn more about the process or ask questions?
We have set up a new web page with more information and updates on the process at www.SingingRiverForward.com. You can submit questions there and even subscribe to the website to receive email alerts. In addition, we are supplying updates to the Special Fiduciary who will post them on the www.SingingRiverRetirement.com website where you can also find the latest reports to the court and other updates.