House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 11:55 AM
BATON ROUGE — Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley said Monday he wants the state Division of Administration to quickly resolve a dispute it has with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Federal officials last Friday rejected the state’s financing plans for the privatization of six state-owned hospitals that care for the poor and uninsured. Testimony before the House Appropriations Committee indicated that $307 million due the state could be denied by CMS.
CMS in a statement said, “To maintain fiscal integrity of the Medicaid program, CMS is unable to approve the state plan amendment request made by Louisiana. We look forward to continuing to work with the state to ensure Louisianans receive high quality Medicaid coverage.”
Hospitals involved in the rejection are located at Lake Charles, New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport and Monroe.
Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said the privatization plan between Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and Moss Regional Medical Center has worked out well.
“People are getting greater access and better care,” Kleckley said. “It has been nothing but a positive event.”
Patients are able to get the care they need in Lake Charles without having to go to Lafayette, Shreveport, Baton Rouge or other health care facilities, he said.
Kleckley said the first thing he did after hearing of the federal rejection was to contact Larry M. Graham, chief executive officer/president of Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, to see if he was concerned about the federal action.
Graham said without question he wasn’t worried about the rejection, according to Kleckley. He said Graham told him the Lake Charles privatization plan mirrors the contract at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge that has already won federal approval.
“We can’t go back. This issue has to be resolved as quickly as possible,” Kleckley told Kristy Nichols, state commissioner of administration. “We have to give this community some comfort that is not based on theories or assumptions.”
Nichols said the privatized hospitals would continue to provide care and make sure that care is maintained.
The federal rejection doesn’t affect the current fiscal year budget or the 2014-15 budget, Nichols said. The money for this year has already been received, she said.
“I can’t overemphasize how important this is,” Kleckley said. “The uninsured folks getting better care need information.”
Nichols said the state specifically needs direction from CMS. She said the agency on Friday said it wanted to work for a solution.
The state is immediately starting the appeal process, she said. CMS will be encouraged to negotiate during the process, she said.
Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, wanted to know how the problem was going to be solved. He said the rejection wasn’t expected and called it “surprising.”
“We will negotiate and put a full court press on CMS,” Nichols said.
Meanwhile, amendments to the agreements will be filed in an effort to satisfy CMS, she said.
The agency contradicts itself in its rejection letter, she said, adding they are fine with the base line (privatization) agreements.
“We expect to be successful in the appeals process,” Nichols said. “The state plan amendments may resolve the problem altogether.”
Posted By: Concerned and Upset Citizen On: 5/7/2014
Title: Kristy Nichols?
Kristy Nichols is quoted as saying "The federal rejection doesn't affect the current fiscal year budget or the 2014-15 budget." If that were true, then why is everyone rushing to get this issue resolved. I read in the Baton Rouge Advocate and other on-line newspapers that the September, 2014 federal payment will be withheld. Ms. Nichols may be a sweet old lady, but apparently she doesn't know jack about budgets. Unfortunately, this latest statement is just one of many examples of her incompetence. We don't need FALSE REASSURANCES from the Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals. Bobby Jindal needs to replace her with someone who can provide the leadership and most of all, honesty the Louisiana Legislature needs to get us through this mess.
Posted By: Connie vige On: 5/6/2014
Title: moss regional
You don't really believe this hospital has changed. It is worse than ever. My sister has cancer and waits for her appointment for over 4 hours. She is dying and they want her to have colonoscopy because she is over 50. They don't notice she's to weak to get out of wheelchair. Blood work done but no results told.Come on have a heart, willing to do test to spend money but no care. This hospital needS HELP