Senate requires approval for LSU hospital deals

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will need approval from the Senate's budget committee to turn over the

management of LSU's public hospitals to private operators, under legislation that received final passage Tuesday.

Without debate, the state Senate approved the measure that requires the LSU Board of Supervisors to seek the backing of the

Senate Finance Committee to privatize the hospitals.

The resolution by Sen. Ed Murray, D-New

Orleans, was adopted by senators without objection — and with no real

explanation

of what its impact would be. Because it was a resolution involving

only the Senate, it didn't need House backing and it doesn't

go to the governor's desk.

The university-run hospitals provide safety net care for the uninsured and help train most of the state's medical students.

Jindal is seeking to privatize all but one of LSU's nine hospitals as a way to cut costs. Agreements for a most hospitals

are under negotiation.

The Jindal administration hadn't intended to submit the lease agreements to lawmakers for approval, saying it wasn't required

under the law. The attorney general's office agreed with that determination.

Lawmakers have raised concerns and questions

about the arrangements, however, saying they worried the rapid push for

privatization

could jeopardize care for the uninsured and damage medical

training programs.

Murray modeled his resolution after similar

legislation filed several years ago requiring joint House and Senate

budget committee

approval for a privatization effort that closed LSU's public

hospital in Baton Rouge, Earl K. Long Medical Center, this week

and shifted most of its inpatient care to a private hospital.

In response to that legislation, the Jindal administration sought and received budget committee backing for the hospital closure

agreement.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Hospitals, which is spearheading the hospital arrangements, didn't immediately

respond Tuesday to a question about whether DHH would comply with the Senate resolution.

LSU hospitals chief Frank Opelka also didn't immediately respond to a similar question.

Hefty savings from the privatizations are assumed in Jindal's budget proposal for the upcoming 2013-14 fiscal year. But none

of the remaining financial arrangements has been completed — or released publicly.