Conway Says State Must Approve Hospital Merger, Ramsey to Address Lawmakers

by Gabe Bullard on July 27, 2011

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and Governor Steve Beshear are attempting to assert their role in a pending hospital merger.

Questions have been growing around the proposed merger of University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives. The merged hospitals will have to follow Catholic health directives. That means University Hospital would have to change how it handles reproductive health issues and end-of-life care.

Conway previously announced his intentions to look into the merger to make sure services will be protected after CHI takes 70 percent ownership of the hospital. He told WFPL last week he couldn’t stop the merger, but could recommend that the Federal Trade Commission not allow it to go forward. After reviewing the merger documents, Conway now says the state Finance and Administration Cabinet and Beshear’s office must approve the merger.¬†Governor Beshear issued a statement saying his approval relies on all services currently offered still being offered after the merger. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer¬†has taken a similar stance. Last year, University Hospital received $61 million from the state and $7 million from the city.

U of L officials say no care will be compromised, but have not explained how that’s possible. The School of Medicine will not be part of the merger, and it’s possible that school-run care facilities will take over banned procedures. A similar solution was used in a merger in Austin, Texas.

Earlier this week, state Representative Tom Burch of Louisville asked U of L President James Ramsey to address the General Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee about the merger. Ramsey agreed to do so today and will address the committee on August 17 along with representatives from the other parties involved in the merger.

Conway is seeking re-election. His opponent, Republican Todd P’Pool, recently criticized Conway for focusing on the potential loss of an abortion provider in the merger, rather than the fact that a for-profit company would own a majority of a public university’s hospital.

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