IND Monthly reported Thursday that the head of the state agency that oversees seven charity hospitals in South Louisiana told a joint legislative committee Thursday afternoon that the state is “very close” to finalizing a deal with a private medical center in Lafayette to take over the critical health care services being eliminated at University Medical Center.
IND Monthly has since learned that LSU Health Care Services Division head Dr. Frank Opelka is now disclosing that Lafayette General Medical Center is the hospital involved in the talks. It remains unclear, however, what role it could play in absorbing the draconian budget cuts coming to UMC. Opelka told lawmakers who sit on the joint Health and Welfare committee that the deal could serve as a model for public-private health care services statewide.
The potential public-private merger in Lafayette was revealed Thursday during a presentation to lawmakers in Baton Rouge on the state’s plan to slash more than $150 million from the collective budgets of seven public hospitals in South Louisiana. The proposal, approved Thursday morning by the LSU Board of Supervisors, will lay off 173 workers at UMC, strip $22.4 million from UMC’s operating budget, eliminate the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and decrease the number of inpatient beds to 10.
Reached late Thursday afternoon, LGMC spokesman Daryl Cetnar would not confirm the LGMC's involvement, saying only that the hospital “cannot comment on speculation.”
The severe budget shortfall the public hospital system is facing erupted over the summer when the federal government reduced its Medicaid matching funds by $860 million. According to a Thursday report from Nola.com, almost 1,500 public hospital workers in South Louisiana will lose their jobs under the plan Opelka outlined Thursday:
Exactly what the reductions will look like for patients in the coming months was not clear from Opelka’s presentation to the board.
Opelka emphasized that the system was looking for private health care providers to “partner” with to provide care to the largely uninsured population that the LSU hospitals treat. These partnerships will help fill the care gaps, he said.
But Opelka mostly did not specify what those partnerships will look like.
When asked by reporters whether uninsured patients can be assured they will have access to non-emergency treatment when LSU’s cutbacks take effect, Opelka said they are “trying to achieve the highest level of confidence we can” that continued access will be available.
Check back with IND Monthly for updates on the potential public-private partnership involving LGMC and UMC.
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AUG 29 Everyone who cares about Louisiana should take time to peruse this story about coastal loss from Bob Marshall of The Lens. It's not enough to call it a story; it's an interactive experience packed with data and amazing graphics, timelines, history, photos and excellent writing. Set aside some time, because you can't go through this one in a few minutes.
JUN 29 This bizarre story from the Advocate on the shooting of a Baton Rouge television personality reads like the script of a soap opera - but not a good one. The allegations against him include sexual abuse of children, including the alleged shooter, and a sham immigration marriage involving his own daughter. The other side? He was a chaplin for the Sheriff's Office in Baton Rouge and preached in a local church.
AUG 29 Here's a story from CBS News about a killer amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish. The story made all three networks (CBS, ABC, NBC) as well as Fox "News," although they have not yet found out how it is Obama's fault. Seriously, the good news is that so far officials know of no one sickened by the water.
AUG 29 Huffington Post has a blog called Love Letters, which is grandly described as "an anthology of reflections on places the world over." This entry is from LSU Football Coach Les Miles, who, it appears, loves Baton Rouge. (Of course he does; he's a rich straight white man.) And certainly Baton Rouge loves him - unless he loses (ask Curley "Golden Flake" Hallman about that) or leaves (ask Nick Saban).
AUG 29 Blogger Bob Mann comments here upon Governor Bobby Jindal's federal lawsuit about Common Core. Mann calls it a "thinly veiled campaign document" and that might be the nicest thing he says in this post. Most troubling for Jindal and his aspirations, Mann has unearthed what Bobby said just a few years ago when he first decided to shove Common Core down our throats.
AUG 29 Blogger Tom Aswell has several developments here related to the so-called Edmonson amendment. The most entertaining one is possibly Tom's acknowledgement that a State Police official is (allegedly) calling the bloggers covering the story some colorful names. Listen up, cowboy: You really think two veterans like Tom Aswell and CB Forgotston care if you call them idiots?
AUG 29 Gotta love those journalists who write something with the enthusiasm that implies they're the first one to figure something out. Mostly, they're not. This is one of those times; the post on Slate Magazine says that Bobby Jindal's Common Core lawsuit is a political stunt. Well - Duh.
AUG 29 This story by WVLA tells us about a guy who got busted for speeding in Baton Rouge. Who cares? This guy took that infraction to new heights by going 129 miles per hour on Nicholson Drive. Poor fella - he probably has spent so much time sitting in Baton Rouge traffic he just had to cut lose.
AUG 28 As the controversy surrounding the Office of Group Benefits intensifies, blogger Tom Aswell gives us some background on the current problems. The OGB, which handles health insurance for current and retired state employees, is deep in the red since it was privatized by Jindal, and Aswell gives us the skinny: this great plan was designed by ALEC. The company handling it? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana - a longtime member of ALEC.
AUG 28 Blogger CB Forgotston has a concept for a new reality show: the wives of the "Dork Dynasty." That's the name that some troopers have given to State Police Commander Mike Edmonson and his inner circle. The ladies CB has picked for his cast are not just housewives, however, and the connections here are pretty interesting.
AUG 28 Blogger Ian McGibboney is writing about the strife in Ferguson in this post, and articulating what many people down south are saying. There's a fairy tale about how there's tons of racism in the South, but it's all hunky dory up North. (Really? Look again.)
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