Editorials

SUN HERALD | Editorial: Settlement is best option we've seen for SRHS, retirees

MONTE WOLVERTON/CAGLE CARTOONS
MONTE WOLVERTON/CAGLE CARTOONS

We hope everyone takes a hard look at a proposed Singing River Health System settlement.

It is a plan for SRHS to put in the $150 million it has failed to pay into the pension plan since 2010. It has a time frame that would give SRHS a fighting chance at survival while it puts that money in at a rate that would give the pension plan the best chance at returning to solvency.

It would replace a majority of the SRHS Board of Trustees members and would bring in a turnaround team to watch over the operation of the county-owned health system.

"We obtained financial records and hired experts to determine how fast they could pay it back reasonably," Jim Reeves, lead attorney on the team that devised the settlement plan, said. He said requiring SRHS to pay the $150 million faster likely would have driven the health system into bankruptcy.

"And a bankrupt Singing River means the pension plan won't get the $150 million."

We know some of those wronged by the actions of SRHS will find it hard to trust the management team to live up to the agreement. But the alternative likely would be years of litigation.

We, too, would have liked to have seen someone in the SRHS leadership, past and present, held accountable for the debacle. And that could yet happen, should the turnaround team recommend new leadership and the county and hospital boards follow through.

We're not in the position of handing out legal advice to the retirees. We can only ask that they and their attorneys carefully examine the offer and weigh their other options.

This is a momentous decision in their lives, and we know they won't take it lightly.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are their own.

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