Private operators of LSU hospitals asked for a $142 million increase in funding that is not included in the Jindal administration’s budget proposal.
Most of the extra funding request came from operators of the New Orleans LSU hospital, which projected a need for $87.6 million in additional funding that they didn’t get. In Baton Rouge, the difference amounted to $7.4 million and Lafayette, $11.6 million.
The Jindal budget keeps the health care dollars going to the hospitals in eight areas of the state at a standstill level for the fiscal year beginning July 1. In the current fiscal year, the budget appropriated approximately $1.2 billion for the hospital deals.
The news particularly upset New Orleans legislators.
State Sen. Ed Murray worried that absent the increased funding there would be reductions in patient services, which is allowed in the partnership agreements if funding is not adequate.
“I’m concerned people running the hospital ... are getting $87 million less than they think they need to perform their mission,” said Murray, a Democrat.
“What do we do to make those dollars up?” Murray asked.
State Rep. Walt Leger III, also a New Orleans Democrat, said keeping the same level of funding in New Orleans makes no sense considering the opening later this year of “a world-class facility we have spent over $1 billion constructing.”
The private partner — Louisiana Children’s Medical Center — has been operating the Interim Hospital. But those activities will be greatly expanded and costs will go up with the opening of the University Medical Center in New Orleans.
Leger said the administration must make proper funding a priority. “The public-private partnerships are incredibly important to the state of Louisiana going forward,” he said.
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said the administration wants “to validate those projections” of funding needs submitted by the state’s private partners. “We have to manage growth and confirm the projected service levels,” she said.
“This budget is a work in progress. To the extent additional money is needed to be spent, we are open to having that discussion,” Nichols said.
Later, Nichols clarified her position: “We will continue to work with our partners on funding solutions that manage growth while continuing to provide quality care.”
Here’s the projected need that the Jindal budget does not provide for hospital deals in other areas of the state: Bogalusa, $4.8 million; Houma, $3.3 million; Lake Charles, $2.4 million; Shreveport, $17.4 million; Monroe, $5.2 million; and Alexandria, $1.9 million.
Under the Jindal administration, private entities took over operation of LSU hospitals in New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma, Bogalusa, Shreveport and Monroe.
LSU’s Earl K. Long Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge closed, and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center now houses its health care and medical education programs. LSU hospitals in Alexandria and Lake Charles also closed, with community hospitals taking over care of the poor and uninsured.
Only Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center in Independence remains under LSU management.