Health Chief: LSU Deals Expected To Win Approval
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana's health secretary said Monday the state expects to receive federal approval this week for the latest version of six LSU hospital privatization contracts, which were rewritten in hopes of keeping Medicaid dollars flowing to the deals.
Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert told state senators that she's been encouraged in conversations with the federal Medicaid agency that the rewritten deals won't hit any roadblocks.
"We were given assurance actually about two weeks ago that they were in approved state and that we should be hearing something this week to get the final approval. We received no questions whatsoever," Kliebert told the Senate Finance Committee.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services didn't immediately return a request Monday for an update on the status of its review.
If the federal agency signs off on the financing arrangements, that would end high-dollar concerns that the hospital privatization deals could fall apart and the state could be on the hook for repaying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money spent on them. Repayment figures have ranged from $200 million to more than $500 million.
Gov. Bobby Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU-run hospitals and their clinics over the last year through no-bid contracts. But his administration didn't first get federal approval for the financing deals, which rely heavily on federal Medicaid money to stay afloat.
In most instances, the management company of a nearby hospital took over operations of the LSU facilities. Three contracts closed an LSU hospital and shifted its services to private facilities.
In May, federal health officials rejected financing plans for six of the Jindal administration's privatization deals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pushed for a rewrite of the contracts.
The deals govern the management transfer of hospitals in New Orleans, Lafayette, Bogalusa, Shreveport and Monroe and the closure of LSU's Lake Charles hospital, moving its inpatient services to a private hospital.
The LSU Board of Supervisors approved the revamped contracts developed by the Jindal administration in October.
The federal Medicaid agency sought to have provisions of the contract removed that promised certain levels of "required funding" for the privatization deals, according to LSU. Those were stripped from the latest versions of the contract.
In exchange, with their financing less certain, the hospital managers got the ability to cancel the contract without cause with 60 days written notice and received fewer restrictions about services they must offer patients.
– by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte