University Hospital Officials Say Cuts From City Would Be Devastating

by Gabe Bullard on April 19, 2012

The Louisville Metro Council Budget Committee will hear testimony today on whether the city should continue funding indigent care at the University of Louisville Hospital.

The city gives the hospital’s Qualitative Care and Charity Trust nine million dollars every year, though the hospital rebates two million dollars at the council’s request. The failed hospital merger and the city’s own budget woes have caused the council to ask if the allocation is really necessary.

“I’m sure there are probably going to be some people raising questions over the money that was spent in the public relations part in the recently-failed merger talks,” says majority caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt. “Because I believe you’re talking about six or seven million dollars right there.”

Further, Hyatt says council members are curious about whether the hospital, which has carried budget surpluses in previous years, can fund the QCCT itself.

“There won’t be a surplus this year,” says hospital Chief Operating Officer Ken Marshall.

Even if there were a surplus, Marshall says it would be irrelevant because the hospital needs to upgrade its facilities.

“If everything was given to us and we didn’t have to buy equipment and we didn’t have to reinvest in the infrastructure, that would be a point,” he says. “But the reality of running a hospital is you have to invest in infrastructure, you have to buy equipment, you have to make sure things work when people arrive at your door.”

The state gives the hospital $25 million a year, but the latest budget calls for that money to be cut in line with cuts on the city level, effectively doubling any cuts to the hospital made at the city level.

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