NRMC employees question PERS payments at bankruptcy hearing

Published 12:12 am Tuesday, September 30, 2014

NATCHEZ — Natchez Regional Medical Center employees were told in court Monday they haven’t been forgotten.

During the confirmation hearing for the county-owned hospital’s sale to Community Health Systems in federal bankruptcy court, hospital employee Rod Lindsey asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Neil Olack what employees could do to get payment of the employer portions of the Public Employees Retirement System and health care benefits that haven’t been remitted even though employees have paid their portion.

Employees recently were told the employer portion of PERS had not been remitted since November 2013. Because of how PERS is structured, the employer contribution is required for an employee to get credit for their time.

Email newsletter signup

Other employees have in recent weeks said the employer portion of health benefits has not been paid for some time.

“We were told by administration in employee forums that we would be third in the list to be paid in the (bankruptcy financial) waterfall,” Lindsey said. “We were told it would be bonds first, United Mississippi Bank second and third would be insurance and retirement.”

Olack said those issues were outside the scope of what the court was addressing Monday, but told the attorneys present to answer Lindsey’s question.

Lindsey later told the judge he had been informed the hospital’s post-bankruptcy portion of PERS would be paid but the pre-bankruptcy portion would be considered part of the unsecured creditor’s pool.

Adams County Board of Supervisors Attorney Scott Slover told the judge the supervisors have been working with PERS to ensure employees get retirement credit for the time they worked at the hospital.

“The board of supervisors takes this issue very seriously,” Slover said.

Olack said many aspects of the case are not routine.

“The (retirement) issue has been raised, and we don’t have an answer for it today, but it is not a forgotten matter,” he said.