Letter to the Editor
Parity bill for state’s two largest teaching hospitals critical in current budget crisis
Some of you may know that I have introduced House Bill 885 – The Safety Net Preservation Act – to provide needed stability in the financing of health care delivered through the state’s safety net hospital system and to ensure the system’s sustainability.
This is not a north versus south issue. It is a fairness issue, one of providing equitable health-care funding for all of our citizens.
First, it is up to the state, my fellow legislators, the people of Louisiana and me to ensure that the hospitals are funded per the agreements entered into when the safety net system was privatized. Second, we must have a funding system which is transparent, equitable and sustainable for these hospitals. Third, we must fund them based upon a formula of output and services provided.
House Bill 885 asks that the Louisiana Department of Health (which administers state supplemental funds in the form of Upper Payment Limit and Disproportionate Share Hospital funds) allow the Legislative Auditor to review the amount of funding that is provided, based upon services rendered, to the University Medical Center in New Orleans and University Health System in North Louisiana. LDH data indicates that there could be a disparity as great as $136 million in favor of UMC, despite the fact that UHS sees about twice as many patients.
This disparity affects the quality of care, the quality of graduate medical education and the quality of research at the medical schools.
LSU-Shreveport Medical School Chancellor Dr. G. E. Ghali’s testimony to the Senate Finance Committee last week highlights these issues. Dr. Ghali said that a budget which does not fund health care would implode the system. The results would be catastrophic for hospitals and the LSU medical schools in Shreveport and New Orleans. The medical schools rely on the safety net hospitals for graduate medical education and as a critical revenue stream to operate the schools.
The budget advanced by the House this past Thursday puts our hospitals and our medical schools in jeopardy of mass closures and scaling back of services and programs. I trust my fellow legislators, and our state leaders will not ultimately let this happen to these essential services.
Our current budget crisis makes the parity bill even more important as it will help to more efficiently and effectively manage health-care financing of the state’s safety net hospital system.
I encourage my fellow legislators to secure safety net health care in Louisiana and bring parity and sustainability to the system.
Let your voice be heard. E-mail me at email@example.com, and I will relay your concerns about parity for north Louisiana at the Capitol.
– Rep. Cedric Glover, Shreveport