For the past three years, Jackson Health System has been on a financial roller-coaster ride that has puzzled and enraged taxpayers and politicians.
In 2008, the system basked in a $25 million surplus -- or so it seemed. A year later, in 2009, community leaders and even Jackson executives were stunned by a catastrophic $244 million deficit. For the 2010 fiscal year, which ends in less than three weeks, accountants project a $90 million loss -- a huge sum, but much better than last year.
What happened? A fresh examination of the budget numbers finds that, minus some financial anomalies, 2008 and 2009 weren't as dramatically different as they first appear.
Even so, some critics accuse Jackson executives of horrendous mistakes.
To put Jackson's finances into perspective at the start of another uncertain fiscal year, consider: