Hospitals Answer Board of Health Questions

by Gabe Bullard on December 20, 2011

Click here for all of our reporting on this issue. 

Officials with University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives have answered some lingering questions about the hospitals’ pending merger. The Board of Health collected the questions before, during and after an October public forum on the merger. You can read the responses here.

The merging partners have also released a number of other documents, and the information has done little to silence critics. Skeptics aren’t convinced that reproductive and end of life care will be preserved. They also have questions about employee benefits and visitation rights.

“All of the potential merger partners honor the visitation wishes of their patients,” say the partners in the statement to the Board of Health.

But the response on employee benefits is not entirely complete: 

Currently, employees of the Catholic facilities within Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare  (Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital and Our Lady of Peace) as well as employees of Saint Joseph Health System, do not have insurance coverage for specific reproductive services or prescription  medications. This will not change in the new organization.

Senior leaders at JHHS and UMC have assured that their employees will continue to have access to full medical coverage in 2012, including reproductive services.

The response doesn’t mention what hospital executives told WFPL previously.

From a story posted on November 30:

In addition to changes in care, the merger will also bring about changes in insurance for employees. In 2013, the benefits package for UMC workers will change. Same-sex partners of hospital employees will no longer be offered benefits. Instead, each employee will have a “plus one” plan that allows them to add coverage to another person, be they partner, spouse or relative. But Taylor could not say whether the plus one benefits would be provided at the same cost same-sex partner benefits are provided now.

“That’s one of those things that isn’t totally priced out yet,” says Taylor. “Our motivation of course is to do that because we’re in a highly competitive market for the skilled people who work at hospitals.”

The latest information comes as merger skeptics become merger opponents. So far, the following groups have asked Governor Steve Beshear not to approve the merger.
  • Metropolitan Louisville Women’s Political Caucus
  • Courier-Journal editorial board
  • Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression
  • Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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