Tuesday, 24 May 2016 13:45
Jindal's private partnership hospital scheme now causing major problems
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by Tom Aswell, Publisher of Louisiana

Baton Rouge Advocate political reporter Elizabeth Crisp has reported that Gov. John Bel Edwards is in the process of renegotiating the state’s contracts with private partners that have taken over operations of the state’s system of charity hospitals.

t’s too bad Crisp’s story was published when it was—last Saturday, May 21. Typically, stories published on weekends don’t get the attention they deserve and this was one of those cases.

You may remember the Jindal administration, working through its rubber-stamp LSU Board of Supervisors, inexplicably approved a contract for transfer of state hospitals in North Louisiana which contained 50 blank pages.

That was way back in 2013—three years ago—and despite Jindal’s and his Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols’ insistence that everything was all right and that the 50 pages would be “filled in later,” things have only gotten worse.

Much worse.

First of all, predictably, lawsuits were soon filed of operation of the LSU Medical Center in Shreveport and E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe by the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana (BRF). Who saw that coming?

It’s not that LouisianaVoice didn’t try to call attention to the obvious: that a contract isn’t a contract without a few specific provisions.

Edwards, who as a state representative, was in regular contact withLouisianaVoice over the status of the approval or rejection of the deal by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), now says as Governor that a savings must be achieved.

To that end, the administration is taking a hard look at the public-private partner contracts that Jindal touted as a savings of millions of dollars to the state. That quite simply, has not happened and the private partners recently testified that they are not making money off the state.

In what would appear to be a classic understatement, Edwards said the deals “were too hastily put together.”

And while Crisp wrote that most people agree that health care services have improved under the partnership but Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) says financials of the partners were never reviewed going into the deal. Harris says the state should be questioning the profit margin for the hospitals.

But a news story that never got any play anywhere in Louisiana has revealed that all is not well at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport or Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

It’s bad enough that some now say the formerly state-run medical school no longer is considered among the nation’s elite. But Becker’s, an online news service geared to the hospital industry, released a story from the Leapfrog Group way back last Oct. 30 that listed 34 hospitals nationwide that received a grade of “F.”

Four of those are in Louisiana and two of those four are University Hospital in Shreveport and Lake Charles Memorial. University is being operated by BRF and Lake Charles Memorial took over operations of Moss Regional Hospital, formerly one of the state-run charity hospitals.

The grades were provided by the Leapfrog Group and calculated by patient safety experts and are peer-reviewed.

Leapfrog, founded in 2000, is a national nonprofit organization that collects and reports on hospital performance. The Leapfrog Safety Score, assigns letter grades to hospitals based on their record of patient safety, helping consumers protect themselves and their families from errors, injuries, accidents and infections.

Leapfrog, which releases safety score updates twice a year, said “D” and “F” hospitals have a 50 percent higher risk of avoidable death than those with a grade of “A.”

Approximately 33,400 lives could be saved if all hospitals had the same level of performance as “A” hospitals, Leapfrog says.

Perhaps those contract renegotiations should be stepped up a bit.


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