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.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.