WOW: Blueprint Louisiana Calls For Replacement Of Charity System

We just got an e-mailed statement that blew us away.

Blueprint Louisiana, the business group which has been pretty forward-leaning in advocating policy reforms in the state, came out today with the strongest statement on the charity hospital system’s future we can remember seeing.

Namely, trash it and come up with something else…

Louisiana’s “charity hospital” model has become outdated by the continuous changes in health care delivery and financing over the past 30 years. Blueprint Louisiana has, since 2007, supported the replacement of this system with a public-private partnership model customized by region to best meet the health care needs of Louisiana’s poor and uninsured citizens.

Challenged to make financial ends meet by this past summer’s surprise reduction in federal Medicaid funding, the Jindal Administration appears ready to face squarely this long overdue health care transition.

Blueprint believes the whole of state government and Louisiana’s health care industry must now come together at this crucial time to replace our state-run charity hospital system with pragmatic community-based solutions better suited to patient needs and today’s rapidly-changing health care sector.

The solutions designed will no doubt vary by region. However, a successful transition to a public-private partnership model should include these four basic goals: (1) the State exits the hospital ownership business wherever possible; (2) LSU exits the hospital management business; (3) patient access to clinical and hospital care is maintained or improved; and (4) the quality of medical education and level of investment is enhanced, with LSU once again focused on medical education and not on the day-to-day management of a hospital system.

We encourage the Jindal Administration, the Legislature, the Department of Health and Hospitals, the LSU Health Care Services Division, private and community hospitals, and physician leaders to work collaboratively to create the best possible patient-centered health care delivery system for Louisiana.

This is likely to be fairly controversial, but it’s spot on. The Charity system costs Louisiana somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 million a year in brick-and-mortar costs which would go away if Louisiana operated on a pure pay-per-patient model. We know this because some 96 percent of the patients at Charity hospitals around the state are Medicare, Medicaid or indigent patients; the state is paying itself to treat these people, and in doing so there’s no private-sector dollars going in. With a model relying on private operators like Ochsner or Tenet or Humana, some of whom might very well actually buy these Charity facilities and give the state a cash infusion which could be used to, say, boost the endowments at LSU’s two medical schools, those facilities would be remodeled to attract patients with private insurance – and you might actually have facilities which aren’t nightmarishly depressing to go to.

Not to mention you might have a little better handle on medical inflation.

But of course the opposition to this statement is likely to be fierce.

It will be interesting to see how many of Louisiana’s politicians will jump on board with the Blueprint statement, courage being in somewhat limited supply.

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