Louisiana Hospital Sends Layoff Notices Amid Deep Cut Threat

 

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — One of Louisiana's safety-net hospital operators notified about 770 of its employees Monday that they could be laid off and the hospital shuttered on June 30 because of proposed budget cuts.

Lafayette General Health System sent the notices to workers at University Hospital and Clinics, ahead of deep reductions slated to hit it and other safety-net facilities when the new budget year begins July 1.

The notification to Lafayette hospital workers was sent to comply with a federal law that requires employers to give notice 60 days in advance of a mass layoff. Other safety-net hospitals are expected to issue similar layoff notices.

The House-backed version of next year's budget would close a gap caused by expiring taxes by cutting $431 million in general state tax dollars from the health department. The cut would grow to an estimated $1.6 billion or more with the loss of federal matching dollars. About $489 million of that would fall on the safety-net hospitals and clinics.

Gov. John Bel Edwards wants lawmakers to pass replacement taxes in a special session to avoid deep slashing across state agencies, but it's unclear if they'll reach a deal.

Edwards administration officials said the proposed cuts likely also would close hospitals in Shreveport, Monroe, Bogalusa and New Orleans. Such closures would have damaging ripple effects on the LSU medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport that rely on the facilities to train their students.

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