LCMC Health significantly drops offer to run West Jeff Hospital _lowres

West Jefferson Medical Center

LCMC Health has almost completely rewritten its original lease proposal for West Jefferson Medical Center, kicking off negotiations to take over the hospital with a new proposal that drops its offer by more than $30 million and makes significant changes to other aspects of the deal, according to sources briefed on the negotiations.

The new proposal, which was presented to parish negotiators at their first meeting with the health care organization last week, appears to have made changes to as much as three-quarters of the original “letter of intent” submitted to the Jefferson Parish Council earlier this year.

That document, in which LCMC offered $225 million in upfront lease payments to run the hospital for 30 years, served as the basis for the Parish Council’s selection of the firm.

The amount now on the table appears to be significantly lower than was offered in that document. While those familiar with the negotiations said they had no indications the payment itself would change, LCMC has withdrawn an offer to take over the pension obligations for workers at West Jefferson, which would leave parish officials with a $33 million burden they had thought would be taken off their hands through the lease.

It was not immediately clear whether any of the changes would result in a reduction in the amount the company would invest in upgrading the buildings and equipment at West Jefferson.

Changes have been made to eliminate sections of the proposal dealing with the governance of the hospital, sources said, though it was unclear what that would mean for the parish’s eventual control over the hospital. LCMC had originally offered the parish seats on its board as part of the deal.

The reworked proposal is expected to raise new concerns among council members who have previously been skeptical of LCMC’s offer, though it was not clear whether the new proposal was a firm offer or a starting point for negotiations.

LCMC President and CEO Greg Feirn did not elaborate on the details of the proposal when asked for comment on the issue earlier this week.

“Negotiating representatives from both sides of the LCMC/West Jefferson Medical Center transaction had their first meeting last Friday, which included initial discussions around a process to move this transaction forward productively,” Feirn said in an emailed statement.

“In the best interest of this transaction moving forward and to continue to respect the confidentiality of the negotiation process as agreed to in the meeting, it would be inappropriate to respond to information requests regarding initial negotiations and draft agreements.”

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