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Partner Hospital Agreements Due As Shortfall Hovers

Sue Lincoln

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said last week the state is expecting a shortfall of between $200-million and $300-million for the fiscal year that ended June 30th. Those moneys will have to be made up out of this year’s already over-committed state revenues -- something that worries Louisiana Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee.

“We’re hoping that’s not the case, because – as you know – we’ve already taken significant cuts,” Gee told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

If that scenario comes to pass, Gee says the choices for cuts are limited.

“It would just be the same thing we’d have to cut before.”

In other words, disability waivers or payments to the partner hospitals would be on the chopping block. She says that last is a problem as details of the new agreements with the partners are due to be released later this week. Dr. Gee did offer a sneak peek at what the new agreements will contain.

“In many of these partnerships there were not stipulations as to how much they should do, even what populations they would be serving, what services they would be delivering,” she said. “There were -- for some of them -- blank checks that were written, to say ‘Send us your bill at the end of the year and we’ll pay it’.”

Instead, the new memoranda of understanding (MOUs) are being built around accountability, transparency, quality and quantity of services.

“We’re requiring them to collect data; to work with us coming up with a budget that is set and stable and no longer the blank check.”

She adds these are the final product of the negotiations between the state and the public partners.

“We’re not done renegotiating. These are MOUs, but we’ll be redoing the Cooperative Endeavor Agreements once we get some of the data back from these partners.”

The most fragile deal has become the one in north Louisiana, with LSU having sued the Biomedical Research Foundation and lost. That deal is central to the medical school at LSU-Shreveport.

“At the end of the day, that’s really the reason for that hospital and for that partnership – is to support training at LSU-Shreveport,” Gee says. “We want to make sure they get the best, but also make sure that the patients in that hospital get the best clinical care.”

She did add, “It’s the expectation that the contract will be signed.”