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University Medical Center to Conduct Operations Review

University Medical Center in Louisville is conducting a self-review in the wake of a failed merger attempt.

UMC is made up of University of Louisville Hospital and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. The organization recently tried to merge with Jewish/St. Mary’s Healthcare and Catholic Health Initiatives, but Governor Steve Beshear blocked the deal. Now, UMC’s board has formed a committee to look at questions over the organization’s financial viability, management and operations that arose during merger talks.

“Those are very valid questions and we think they deserve the very best answers we can get,” says UMC Chairman Bob Rounsavall, who will lead the committee.

The committee’s review will be given to a consultant. Rounsavall says the consultant will make recommendations for UMC’s future, and that could include a suggestion that the organization should find another partner to merge with.

“UMC needs to continue to try to do what it does best and look at its future in terms of how its future can best be taken care of,” says Rounsavall.

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Beshear Rejects Alternative Merger Plan, U of L Hospital Responds

University of Louisville Hospital officials say Gov. Steve Beshear’s decision to reject the proposed merger with two other health care entities will likely lead to cuts to indigent care.

Beshear met with U of L merger officials last week after rejecting a three-way merger with Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives. Last week Jewish/ St. Mary’s and CHI officials announced they have reached an agreement to merger without U of L, retroactive for Jan. 1, 2012.

Beshear rejects the latest proposal, saying U of L Hospital produced a  profit in 2010 and it is a hospital with strengths.

“I think I saw where last year they had a $13 million profit. So it looks like it’s being run well. I think there will be a lot of options out there for University Hospital,” Beshear said in a prepared statement to media.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Beshear Turns Down Revised Hospital Merger Proposal

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has again rejected a proposed merger involving University of Louisville Hospital with Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives.

Last month, the governor found business consolidation would result in the loss of a public asset and blocked the deal. The merger would’ve put University Hospital under a contract inspired by Catholic doctrine that would have blocked certain reproductive health procedures and change employee benefits.

But Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and St. Joseph Health System in Lexington decided to moved forward with their portion of the deal and merge without the university. Since then, school officials had been lobbying and negotiating with Beshear to draft a deal the state would accept.

From the governor’s office:

“Last week, University representatives offered us some ideas to address our concerns about the original proposed merger partnership. Attorney General Conway and I have carefully evaluated those ideas, but found that they will not satisfy our concerns about the merger proposal.

University Hospital is clearly a facility with significant strengths. The Courier-Journal just reported that the Hospital’s 2010 profits tripled to nearly $13 million.

Attorney General Conway and I share University Hospital’s goals of continued quality health care, as well as solid financial standing, and we remain committed to working with the University to explore all appropriate paths forward for the hospital and for our Kentucky taxpayers.”

University Hospital leaders have said without the merger or additional state funding the facility could be forced to cut certain services.

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Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System to Merge With Catholic Health Initiatives Without U of L

Officials for Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System say they’ll merge with Catholic Health Initiatives without University of Louisville Hospital.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear rejected the merger between the three healthcare systems late last week after Attorney General Jack Conway—who previously ruled University Hospital is a public entity—said a merger with CHI may lead to loss of control of a public asset.

Conway writes in this opinion that the merger “raises unprecedented and complex legal and policy issues. While some of the legal and policy issues have been addressed by the parties, many remain unresolved.”

Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System, which is a private entity, has struggled the past couple years, making 155 job cuts last August and losing two top executives amid merger negotiations. It now announces its partnership under the name KentuckyOne Health (logo pictured.)

Jewish/St. Mary’s CEO David Laird says the new board will consist of 10 CHI and 5 Jewish/St. Mary’s representatives.

“CHI in Kentucky has a lot more hospitals than Jewish had so it made sense that there would be representation so there could be knowledge shared from an experiential standpoint for the constituent members of this board,” Laird said.

CHI is investing $320 million to launch KentuckyOne Health and since January 1st this year, Jewish no longer offers sterilizations, said Laird.

This may have come as surprise to some, but this form of a merger has been in the works for a while, Paul Edgett,  senior vice president of CHI.

As for merging with U of L, Edgett said conversations aren’t finished.

“We look forward to the opportunity to work within the constraints that the governor has outlined for us and we continue to have dialog with the governor on how we can make that happen…and there is definitely potential for that to continue,” he said.

Merger officials said they don’t expect to merge with U of LHospital, but may pursue some program partnerships with University Medical Center.

Click here to see a WFPL news special with merger officials.

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Hospital Merger Critics Declare Victory

Governor Steve Beshear has blocked the proposed merger between University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives. The news was a blow to the hospitals, which saw the merger as a solution to their various financial problems. But a grassroots group that took issue with the merger is celebrating.

Organizer Honi Goldman says the group wasn’t against the merger itself, but rather various stipulations of the merger. One of the big concerns was the amount of money Denver-based CHI would get from the deal.

“We’re opposed to having Kentucky dollars go to any corporation, whether it be CHI or Kraft Foods. Kentucky dollars need to stay in Kentucky.”

Other concerns focused on the role religion would play in the merger.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Conway Explains Hospital Merger Recommendation

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has released a statement explaining his recommendation to Governor Steve Beshear against the controversial Louisville hospital merger.

From the attorney general’s office:

“My staff and I conducted a thorough and comprehensive review of the proposed hospital merger. This presented an unprecedented combination of entities and a myriad of legal and public policy issues. Some of those issues were addressed by the parties, but many of them were not resolved. Of particular concern was the loss of control of a valuable state asset and the services it provides to the public.

It is my opinion that the Governor should not at this time approve the proposed new affiliation agreement and new lease. I support the University of Louisville and its mission, but it is a public agency with an obligation to inform and work with state government regarding the control of a public asset such as University Hospital.

I appreciate Gov. Beshear’s careful analysis of this merger, and I believe he ultimately made the appropriate decision on behalf of the Commonwealth’s interests.

I am committed to working with all parties to ensure that our hospitals continue to fulfill their missions as leading trauma centers, teaching hospitals and nationally renowned research facilities.”

Read the merger report from Conway here.

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Beshear Rejects Hospital Merger

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has rejected the pending merger between University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives.

The deal would’ve put University Hospital under a contract inspired by Catholic doctrine, though the institution would remain secular. It blocked certain reproductive health procedures and would change employee benefits, beginning 2013.

Critics of the merger say it would create an unwelcome entanglement between church and state. The merging partners argued that University Hospital is not a public entity. But in his statement rejecting the merger, Beshear sided with the critics.

“If this merger were allowed to happen, U of L and the public would have only indirect and minority influence over the new statewide network’s affairs and its use of public assets,” he said.

Attorney General Jack Conway also ruled that the hospital was a public entity, though the merging partners challenged his decision.

But the merger’s critics are celebrating.

Criticism of the merger picked up this year as details emerged about the role Catholic doctrine would play in the deal. After merging with Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives, U of L Hospital would stop performing certain procedures banned by the Catholic Church. That included tube tying and distributing birth control. Also, employee health benefits would change in 2013, possibly to exclude coverage for same-sex partners.

Leading merger critic Honi Goldman welcomed Beshear’s decision.

“Obviously he realized both the financial repercussions that this merger would take on the Commonwealth as well as to the healthcare of the citizens of Kentucky,” she said.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Fischer Discusses Hospital Merger, Occupy and Insight Deal

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer appeared on CN2 Pure Politics to discuss a variety of issues, including the pending hospital merger, permits for Occupy Louisville protestors and the city’s contract negotiations with Insight Communications.

In regards to the ongoing talks with the cable company provider, the mayor said Metro Government wants a fair deal on a new franchise agreement based on what other cities have received but that Insight is too focused on its potential purchase by cable giant Time Warner, Inc. for an estimated $3 billion.

Asked if he’s prepared to cut off cable service for residents if the negotiations fail, Fischer says that would be Insight’s decision but threatened Metro Government could pull out.

“That’s not normally what happens. A new provider would come in, but we’re certainly prepared to terminate the franchise. Don’t want to! We want them to come to the table, but we’re having a hard time just even talking to them. I think they’re so caught up in this deal of Insight being purchased by Time Warner they’re remembering there are some open issues with us here,” he says.

Check it out:

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Beshear Will Make Decision on Hospital Merger, Move Aggressively on Gaming Amendment

Facing a challenging budget for the upcoming General Assembly, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is promising to lobby state lawmakers aggressively for a constitutional amendment on expanding gaming.

A recent poll showed 87 percent of voters want the issue to be on the November 2012 ballot. The survey also found 64 percent of Kentuckians would favor such a change to the state constitution.

Beshear says his legislative agenda will also include improving early childhood education, but the state needs more money for such programs to work.

“We are going to need more revenue as we move down the road and I am going to aggressively push a constitutional amendment to get it on the ballot that would let people vote on whether Kentucky should have expanded gaming in the state. These are the kinds of things we need to do to make a difference for Kentucky for years to come,” he says.

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Hospitals Answer Board of Health Questions

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: