A legislator questioned Thursday state plans to pay $15 million to build health care facilities for two private hospitals in central Louisiana.
The construction is part of the Jindal administration’s plan to close LSU’s Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville. Under a “cooperative endeavor agreement,” Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital and Rapides General Medical Center would take over care of the poor and uninsured.
The $15 million would be used to construct three out-patient, urgent-care and specialty clinics in Alexandria and Pineville and expand an in-patient psychiatric unit at the Christus facility.
The Interim Emergency Board agreed Thursday to shift $15 million in the state’s construction budget to build the facilities for the private hospitals.
But before the vote, state Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, sought assurances.
“I’m OK on this but if the cooperative endeavor agreement ends in five years, who owns the buildings?” Fannin asked. “At the end of five years, we will still need to provide the care. I want to make sure we have facilities to operate out of.”
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said the specifics of the agreements with the hospitals involving the projects have not been finalized. But she said the public’s interest would be protected.
Nichols said options include a repurchase or reimbursement for the worth of the facilities “unless we reach some kind of public facility lease.”
“We will have established ownership rights or repurchase rights,” said Liz Murrill, division executive counsel.
Murrill said details of the arrangement will be worked out before the administration takes the projects to the State Bond Commission for approval of the financing, possibly next month.
The $15 million had been earmarked for renovations to a hospital at England Air Park in Alexandria that would have become the area’s health care facility.
But the administration decided to instead enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the two private hospitals. The administration needed Interim Emergency Board approval to move money from the England Air Park project to the new projects.