BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration has reached renegotiated deals with all but one of the operators of the charity hospitals and patient services previously managed by LSU, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said Friday.
The Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana that runs LSU’s hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe is the lone hospital operator that hadn’t signed off on the Edwards administration’s offer. Dardenne said the foundation, known as BRF, was given an extra day to decide.
But the Friday evening deadline came and went with no signed paperwork, raising questions about whether a deal would be reached or another hospital manager would have to be found.
“We do not have a signed (agreement) from BRF. We do not have a deal,” Dardenne said.
Former Gov. Bobby Jindal privatized nine LSU-run hospitals and their clinics that cared for Louisiana’s poor and uninsured through no-bid contracts, with the earliest deal starting in April 2013. In most instances, the management company of a nearby hospital took over operations. Three hospitals — one each in Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and Pineville — closed and their services were shifted to private hospitals.
The Edwards administration has been renegotiating the deals for months, saying the privatization contracts were drawn up too quickly and included terms that were unfavorable to the state.
Dardenne said the renegotiated arrangements include fixed dollar amounts that each hospital can receive and new data collection requirements, to help track and improve patient care quality. Hospitals also agreed to pay “fair-market value” for the services of LSU’s physicians.
“We attempted, as best we could, to develop a consistent policy,” he said. He added: “I’m real happy to have this resolved, and we’re very satisfied with the results.”
Part of the reworked agreement with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, which took over LSU’s hospital services in Baton Rouge, involves adding an emergency room in the northern part of the city, which is lacking in ER services. The state will pay $5.5 million to expand an urgent care facility for the emergency room, Dardenne said.
Additional sources of federal financing also were identified during the negotiations to help pay for the hospital arrangements, Dardenne said.
“These were tough negotiations with all the hospitals. They all wanted more money, but we had no more general fund dollars to give them. But we have done some things that have enabled us to be able to tap into some additional federal dollars,” he said.
The terms are contained in short-term documents — called a memorandum of understanding — that expire at the end of the current budget year. The Edwards administration expects the terms to be included in amended long-term contracts to be drawn up in the coming months.
The privatization deal in north Louisiana has been the most contentious partnership, with LSU and the research foundation accusing each other of financial mismanagement. The foundation hadn’t run a patient care facility before taking over the LSU hospitals.
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