The Tarrant County Hospital District, which operates as JPS Health Network, could see a $10 million revenue shortfall in fiscal 2010 due to more uninsured patients seeking medical care. The increased demand by patients without insurance may result in the system’s first deficit since 1975.

Officials said last week that the number of patients with private insurance is down 3% from 2008, reducing the taxpayer-supported district’s revenue by $21 million this year from last year’s level.

At the same time, the district has seen participation in its low-cost health care program, Connections, rise to more than 51,000 participants after several years of sluggish growth. The organization has more than 4,500 employees and operates two hospitals and several clinics in Fort Worth and throughout Tarrant County.

The district’s revenue debt is rated AA-minus by Standard & Poor’s, which also provides an AA-plus rating on the its certificates of obligation. Moody’s Investors Service rates the revenue bonds Aa3 and the COOs A1.

Tarrant County commissioners replaced several members of the system’s board last year after it was revealed the district had amassed a large cash reserve while limiting the number of low-income and indigent patients it would treat at its clinics and hospitals. The revamped board then removed the health care system’s chief executive officer.

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