State representative Walt Leger III creates PAC _lowres

Advocate file photo by MICHELLE MILLHOLLON -- La. House speaker pro-tem Walt Leger III.

Opening the new $1.2 billion University Medical Center in New Orleans without the dollars required to fund its operations will cut access to health care, LCMC Health Chief Executive Officer Greg Feirn said Monday.

“Without the funding we would have to reduce the amount of care provided in a brand new facility. It doesn’t make sense,” Feirn told the House Appropriations Committee.

The budget is $87.6 million short of the dollars sought as medical activities move from LSU’s Interim Hospital to the larger state-of-the-art facility Aug. 1, Feirn said. LCMC Health sought $394.2 million in dollars for uninsured care and supplemental Medicaid funding. The proposed budget includes $306.6 million at a standstill level.

“We need to have a successful opening on Aug. 1,” he said. “Without the funding, it won’t be a successful opening.”

Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Jim Fannin, whose name is on the state budget bill, said University Medical Center operators are not alone among LSU’s private partners when it comes to funding shortfalls. All told, the private partners are a projected $159 million short of additional revenues requested above budget standstill levels.

“We have issues in this state. We have issues in the state revenues. You need to be thinking about what level of excellence you want if that revenue does not show up,” Fannin said.

Other hospitals “need to have that same amount of excellence” when it comes to health care, said Fannin, R-Jonesboro.

“I want us all to keep the right perspective,” he said. “If we had the money we all could be happy, but it’s just not that way.”

“Maintaining access to care is a top priority. We are continuing to work with our partners and the Legislature on funding solutions for the upcoming year,” said Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols released a statement late Monday night.

House Speaker Pro T em Walt Leger III said he’s committed to finding the money to cover the needs of all the LSU partners across the state.

Leger, a New Orleans Democrat, said money is being saved through the LCMC Health partnership as care has been expanded. Inadequate dollars would impede those efforts, he said.

In addition, cutbacks in services at the New Orleans facility could have a negative impact on physician training programs, Leger said.

“We have to have a certain capacity … and diversity of services to meet graduate medical education” or there is the risk of accreditation problems, he said.

Feirn participated in a committee briefing on what’s happened since LCMC Health took over operations of the Interim Hospital.

Among the highlights:

  • Opening 25 medical-surgical beds, 13 emergency room exam rooms and nine behavioral health beds.
  • Increased operating room capacity by 18.2 percent.
  • Decreased cost-per-adjusted-patient-day by 13 percent.
  • Cash collections for medical care have increased by $2.3 million a month.
  • Commercial insurance as a percent of business has increased 3 percent — from 8 to 11 percent.

Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the state capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.