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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OCT 22 This entertaining short (15 minutes) film on Munchies is all about Boudin. Thank goodness it's just a documentary-style piece filled with the voices and faces of south Louisiana, as opposed to outsiders waxing poetic about our regional specialties. But be warned, there is some pretty graphic pig butchery going on here, so if you're squeamish it may not be for you.
OCT 22 A state judge threw out the lawsuit of a former employee of the LSU Alumni Association, the Advocate reports here. The employee had claimed the former director of the group gave her a job so she'd have sex with him, and after she left agreed to continue to pay her -- so she'd have sex with him. Apparently you get no points for hutzpah.
OCT 22 Education blogger Mike Deshotels writes about the retraction of the Cowen report in this post. However you slice it, the Recovery School District is still failing, he says. (But Mike, doesn't that depend on what the intention was? If no one ever meant the RSD to fix public education, it's working perfectly, isn't it?)
OCT 22 A major Jindal donor was allowed to avoid the competitive bid process in the purchase of a state office building in Monroe, blogger Tom Aswell reports in this post on Louisiana Voice. The circumstances he lays out here are pretty stinky.
OCT 22 While Govs. Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry attempt to fan the flames of Fox Newsian hysteria into viable presidential hopes with talk of building walls to keep out the Ebola, LA Times columnist Mike Hiltzik gives them some national press they probably don't want: if you want to save lives, he says, try accepting Medicaid expansion. Wups!
OCT 22 It's hard to pick out the most interesting part of this post on Mother Jones about Texas lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick (His claim that migrant workers will bring leprosy to Texas? That Connie Chung's show should be called "Slanted Eye to Eye"?) But of course we must go with the comments about our very own Duck people, and how they are the spokesmen for God.
OCT 22 Advocate owner (and rich guy) John Georges must be doing a little happy dance today. As his paper reports here, the Times Picayune is further reducing its footprint in NOLA, by laying off 100 people and moving their printing operations to Mobile. (Yes, Alabama.) Does this mean the Advocate won?
OCT 22 Baton Rouge's downtown is now starting to show significant growth, this post on DIG Baton Rouge reports. With new construction, new restaurants and new housing units popping up, the downtown area is finally starting to look like a capital city, the story says.
OCT 21 Two St. John Parish employees were indicted in connection with the amoeba found in the parish water supply, WVUE reports in this post. They are accused of lying about testing the water for proper chlorine levels, the story says, claims that were contradicted by their government vehicles' GPS records.
OCT 21 The McClatchy DC blog posts this fascinating view of Louisiana's political landscape. It's a little heavy on the cliches, and also a little heavy on the quaint Cajun/Creole shtick, but it's still good reading -- if only for the outside view of our insides.
OCT 21 Here's an interesting story from the National Journal about New Orleans almost 10 years post-Katrina. There are demographic information and charts, as well as some commentary about the corresponding changes in the way the city looks and works.
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