Records request denied for charity hospital budget talks
Access to the documents that LSU System top officials wrote and received amid planning for massive budget cuts throughout the state’s charity hospital system has been denied.
The Advocate, according to its own report, submitted a records request in late September “seeking access to documents written by and received by LSU System President William Jenkins, LSU System Executive Vice President Frank Opelka and LSU Board of Supervisors Chairman Hank Danos concerning the hospital budget cuts and privatization efforts.”
The records request is tied to the system’s plan to strip more than $150 million from the operating budgets of seven charity hospitals in South Louisiana, which will result in roughly 1,500 layoffs, a drastic reduction in the number of available beds and a push for public-private partnerships to cope with the loss in services for the state’s charity hospital patients.
The LSU System’s legal adviser denied the newspaper’s request on the grounds of “deliberative process:”
“Deliberative process” is a legal term that involves the internal processes that go into making a decision. Supporters of the exemption argue that advisers would not feel as free to give unfettered advice if they knew their thoughts could be made public.
[Legal counsel] did not respond to subsequent emails asking why the LSU Board chose to keep the information secret when the law is discretionary and does not forbid LSU officials from choosing to release the documents.
In an email response, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s communications director, Kyle Plotkin, said the Governor’s Office had nothing to do with LSU’s decision to deny public access to the records. “... LSU will continue to work closely with stakeholders and make their own determinations about public records requests,” Plotkin wrote Tuesday.
The [drastic budget cuts] proposal comes in response to a reduction in federal Medicaid funding support. The administration claims the current LSU hospital system is unsustainable and changes will improve health care and training of the state’s future physicians.
Click here for IND Monthly coverage on the charity hospital cuts coming down and what they mean for UMC.
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