SURPRISE! The Privatized Charity Hospitals Come In $52 Million Under Budget

Go figure, right? We all just KNEW that privatizing a bunch of government-run hospitals for poor people would explode the budget. Because that’s happened…never.

Louisiana spent $52 million less than was budgeted for Gov. Bobby Jindal’s privatization deals for the LSU hospitals that provide care to the uninsured in the recently ended fiscal year, according to data provided by the state health department.

Jindal’s health secretary, Kathy Kliebert, said the hospital’s new managers are improving care while also running more efficient operations.

“We feel really comfortable that they are managing their budgets, that their new cost structures that they’re setting in place are working, and at the same time we’re getting really good quality care,” Kliebert said in an interview.

What you’ll hear from the other side, including Sen. Sherri Buffington of Shreveport who’s so conservative that she wanted to conserve the government hospital in Shreveport as it was before the evil Bobby Jindal leased it to the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, is that the savings came on the backs of The Poor. More specifically, that when LSU was ramping down its operations in preparation for the transfer of the hospitals all the uninsured patients the state was paying for twice (the state picks up the tab for indigent health care, plus it was paying for the brick-and-mortar costs of the charity hospitals) were going to other private hospitals for care and those hospitals aren’t getting reimbursed.

That’s the story, anyway, though it’s a little surprising that we didn’t hear a constant screaming about that inundation throughout the state while the changeover was going on. In fact, there’s pretty good evidence indicating that the private hospital managers have managed to cut wait times down for prescription fillings and it’s never been easier for an indigent patient to gain admittance to a clinic.

We’ll get a fuller accounting of how the money truly worked out in a couple of months. And we’ll know next year, after the first full year of the implementation of Jindal’s idea to privatize the charity hospitals, exactly how much money is saved.

But if you’ve paid casual attention to the Charity privatization, you might be at a loss to summon up memories of dead bodies due to neglect as a result of the privatization. If there are oodles of corpses littering the roadsides outside of hospitals throughout Louisiana for lack of admittance, they’ve gone strangely unreported. And one would expect that’s not a story – Jindal closes government hospitals, pawns them off on greedy corporations, patients suffer and perish – Louisiana’s media would ignore.

There is no story. Nobody suffered from the leases of those hospitals. And the state is going to save a lot of money as a result, while likely delivering better services to the public. And since you can use a private hospital for medical instruction just like you can at a public hospital, the LSU medical schools in Shreveport and New Orleans will do just fine.

The Charity Hospitals were a Third Rail Of Louisiana Politics for decades. Jindal came along and grabbed it with both hands as the legislature ran for the treeline. And guess what? Nothing much bad has happened. Those hospitals got privatized, and they’re going to be fine.

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