This Week: JSU low on cash, the state low on revenue, and hospice high on fraud

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Among the week’s headlines:

• Jackson State University’s cash reserves have been depleted 89 percent over the last four years — from $37 million to $4 million.

This prompted the Institutes of Higher Learning to  hire an accounting analytics firm to dive into the university’s finances between fiscal year 2012 and fiscal year 2016 and to identify spending patterns and make cost savings proposals.

In a press release, JSU says it’s aware of its financial issues and projects that a number of money saving actions will add $10 million to its cash reserves by the end of the current fiscal year.

• Mississippi’s first quarter revenue collections could be their lowest in six years.

In a recent report, state economists said revenues were just over $ 1 billion dollars. That would be $26 million less than estimated in March for the current fiscal year which started July 1.

Mississippi Today analyzed first quarter forecasts since 2003 and determined this is the worst first-quarter performance since fiscal year 2010 during the Great Recession.

But Gov. Phil Bryant says he will work with the legislative leadership to make necessary adjustments in the second half of that budget year.

Economist blame unanticipated Department of Revenue expenses for this quarter’s lagging revenues.

• More Medicare beneficiaries leave hospice care alive in Mississippi than in any other state, and that shows the state’s ongoing problem with Medicare fraud, according to government officials.

Data from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services showed that Mississippi hospice providers discharged over 20 percent of their Medicare patients alive. The national average is 11 percent.

“I can think of absolutely no reason to explain the high live discharge rate other than the fact that these patients never even belonged on hospice,” said Chris Covington, an assistant special agent for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

Since 2014, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has arrested or indicted nine people in hospice schemes that defrauded Medicare of nearly $15 million dollars. So far eight have pled guilty. Government officials say more are likely.