by marsha shuler
and mark ballard
Capitol news bureau
July 29, 2012
LSU on Friday was able to identify dollars within the public hospital system that would offset a large portion of anticipated funding cuts.
The long-awaited report on how LSU would balance a loss that could reach nearly $330 million from its budget without closing public hospitals was submitted Friday to the LSU Board of Supervisors.
No hospitals will be closed but some services will be curtailed.
Physicians will take less money, purchases will be delayed and hospitals will divert existing state funds to match federal health care dollars that will help mitigate the cuts that are needed, according to the plan.
The reductions include the closure of an operating room in the Earl K. Long Medical Center on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge and half the operating rooms at the Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma. The University Medical Center at Lafayette will reduce the radiology maintenance and physician contracts, according to the plan.
Fred Cerise, LSU System vice president for health affairs and medical education, said the LSU Board wanted the hospitals to change how they were operating in different areas, consider public-private partnerships, sale or lease of hospitals and other models.
Those goals still require work. The plan released Friday “gets us through this immediate crisis and gives us time to work on the things the board wanted us to work on,” Cerise said.
“We’re trying to solve a short term problem and getting ready for a long-term problem,” LSU Board member Dr. John George, of Shreveport said.
The board passed a resolution giving authority to interim LSU System President William Jenkins to carry out the plan. Cerise said there will be some transition for some facets, but generally the plan will start Monday.
Cerise said the LSU Board had asked for a plan that cut 34.5 percent at each facility, did not close any hospital or emergency room and kept graduate medical education programs intact.
“Our mission of teaching, training and research has been protected,” said Bobby Yarborough, an LSU Board member from Baton Rouge.
Cerise said residency programs at the LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center, in Bogalusa and in Houma would have been lost if “the cuts were (more) drastic.”
As a result of protecting medical education, many of the cuts fell on the public hospitals that did not have a training function, Cerise said.
The Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center in Independence is reducing its treatments for cancer and diseases of the eye, the report says. The plan also calls for closing cardiology and surgery services, infectious disease treatment and the intensive care unit.
Emergency room services will be decreased 25 percent at E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe, acute care beds will be reduced 35 percent at Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville, and LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport will reduce services and use one-time funds to allow time for more strategic long-term solutions, according to the report submitted to the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Cerise said the medical schools in Shreveport and New Orleans have contributed to help close the gap.
LSU needed to find enough state money to avoid losing the federal dollars that could have equalled almost $330 million. Budget cuts covered much of that gap. Complex accounting covered a larger portion.
For instance, the largest amount of state dollars came from leaving less cash on hand to pay bills through the seven hospitals operated under the Health Care Services Division, Cerise said. “That will require us working closely with the state Department of Health and Hospitals in getting payments (for services provided at the hospitals),” Cerise said.
The cuts are part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plans to close an $859 million hole in the state Medicaid budget prompted by a sudden decline in federal participation in the government health insurance program. Administration officials announced $522.5 million in budget reductions in response to federal participation issue. Sixty percent of the budget reductions fell on LSU.
“We’re being forced to come up with a plan,” LSU Board member George said. “This buys us a little time.”
Koran Addo of the Capitol news bureau
contributed to this report.