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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NOV 21 Bobby Jindal is headed to Iowa again, the Des Moines Register reports here. The paper outlines what's going on with Bobby's non-campaign for president, and there's a lot of stuff here -- too bad none of it sounds like somebody running Louisiana. Hey, wasn't that the job he wanted?
NOV 21 The end of the term has come for the grand jury investigating a lucrative Medicaid contract and a former state health official's ties to the company that won it, the Advocate reports here, but that doesn't mean the investigation into this stinkiness is over. There are still some things to look into, the lead prosecutor says.
NOV 21 With the passage of two amendments to Louisiana's much-amended constitution (it has been amended almost 200 times now) higher education has an even bigger target on its collective back, columnist Jim Beam opines in this post. Higher ed used to share the spotlight with health care, but that has changed, he says.
NOV 21 Here's a weird one: The Louisiana Cannabis Industry Association has endorsed Bill Cassidy for the U.S. Senate. Apparently, Mary Landrieu said she wouldn't consider support of medical marijuana but Cassidy said he would, WWL reports here.
NOV 21 Solange Knowles, possibly best-known for assaulting her brother-in-law in an elevator while wearing an ugly dress after the Met Ball, got married in the Marigny Opera House this past weekend, the New York Times reports here. Knowles, who has a house in the Faubourg Marigny district and owns a boutique in the Quarter, married Alan Ferguson.
NOV 21 This post on the Fuel Fix blog outlines a $1.4 billion move announced this week by the Apache Corp. that includes the sale of assets in south Louisiana. The company's interests in more than 90,000 acres in south Louisiana are some of the assets being sold, the post reports.
NOV 21 One (possible) positive from Hurricane Katrina is a comprehensive zoning ordinance for New Orleans. Nine years later, we're getting closer to that being finalized, but the current version has some problems. Here's the latest in a series of posts on The Lens in which residents give their views of the draft; this one is more amusing than most.
NOV 21 The new NOLA smoking ordinance is going to harsh your (nicotine) buzz, man. This post on Gambit outlines the high (or low, as the case may be) points: it includes electronic cigarettes and hookahs in its bans; eliminates smoking within 25 feet of any building's public entrance and in any public space - or near any public space - operated by the city.
NOV 20 Politico reports here that Bobby Jindal won't be kept out of the presidential race by anyone else's candidacy. (If he's running, which he's not, 'cause he's not done prayin' on it) So he's not interested in who is running, or what the polls say, or how much money he's got? K.
NOV 20 NOLA Defender's Tiny Daiquiri has a little fun with Bobby Jindal's Meet the Press appearance in this post. Bobby is still prayin' on whether or not he'll run for the job he's been running for over the past three years, Tiny says.
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