Senate requires approval for LSU hospital deals

Published 3:19 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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.””

(American Press Archives)