LSU on Monday sought proposals for the privatization of prisoner health care ahead of the closure of Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge.
One request for proposal is for in-patient, emergency and related services to state and parish offenders in the Baton Rouge region while the other is for third party administrative services to handle associated medical billing.
LSU is moving its medical education and in-patient hospital services to the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center campus in south Baton Rouge by 2014.
Prisoner care is not part of the cooperative endeavor agreement between LSU and the Lake. Neither is obstetrics and gynecology. LSU has previously entered into an agreement with Woman’s Hospital for the OB-GYN care.
LSU advertised the requests for proposals as well as sent copies to hospitals in the Baton Rouge region. The information is also on the state Division of Administration’s website.
By law, the LSU hospitals and clinics are required to serve inmates housed in either state or local correctional facilities. The state also appropriates dollars for prisoner care.
LSU System Vice President Fred Cerise said seven inmates per day, on average, are treated at the LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center. Some 80 percent of them come from state prisons, juvenile and forensic facilities, Cerise said. The other in-patients are prisoners in parish jails in the eight parish area, he said.
“A couple of places have expressed interest,” Cerise said. “It will all boil down to how they look at the RFP.”
Cerise said in-patient prisoner services have declined in recent years with the use of telemedicine. In addition, out-patient care of prisoners at EKL clinics is also half of what it was because of the use of telemedicine.
LSU’s Baton Rouge clinics will continue to provide out-patient care for the inmates who are at all times accompanied by security, he said.
Area hospitals seeking the in-patient hospital and emergency services contract must have proposals in by Aug. 3 to LSU’s Health Care Services Division, which oversees EKL and six other south Louisiana hospitals.
The hospitals must be able to provide a secure detention ward. Prison officials will continue to provide guards. In addition, the hospitals must identify all services they can offer and any major services they cannot provide as well as identify by name and specialty the hospital’s network of physicians and other providers.
The separate RFP for third party administration services is due by July 27.
“We are looking for somebody who can pay claims,” Cerise said. He said the billings are currently done in-house. But Cerise said the new arrangement could result in some complexities that would be better handled by a separate entity.