Letters: Medical training changing for better

The article titled “LSU downsizing could cost $83 million more” (The Advocate, Oct. 27) incorrectly gives readers the impression that graduate medical education in the LSU system is in danger and faces an unforeseen financial cliff. This could not be further from the truth.

The current system we have for graduate medical education is unsustainable. No other state owns a network of hospitals to train doctors. This outdated network not only costs more to operate, but the network’s patient mix is not optimal for training residents, and leaves valuable federal Medicare training dollars on the table. The system must change with the times.

When the federal government reduced Louisiana’s Medicaid program by $800 million, it forced us to speed up this inevitable transition to a more-sustainable system of graduate medical education. The $83 million loss in funds is not a net loss, but a loss from revenue streams that will be replaced by new revenue streams flowing from public-private partnerships.

Public-private partnerships will provide residents with better patient mixes, maximize federal Medicare training dollars and place our graduate medical education program on a sustainable path to better train the doctors of tomorrow.

These public-private partnerships currently being negotiated will be signed in short order. Any short-term funding challenges caused by this transition will be addressed by the substantial cash reserves currently held within our system.

Transitioning doctor training to a model for the future is not going to be easy, but our plan to protect graduate medical education by maximizing public-private partnerships throughout the state is not only the best path forward for our state and the taxpayers of Louisiana, but more importantly, it’s the best path forward for the students who deserve a first-class medical education.

Frank Opelka, M.D., executive vice president
of health care and medical education redesign

LSU System

New Orleans