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Local News

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 Politics

Lawmaker Has More Questions About Hospital Merger

The principals of three merging healthcare systems in Kentucky can expect more questions from state lawmakers.

Last week, representatives from University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives addressed the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare. They fielded questions about how reproductive and end-of-life services would be protected after the entities merge and Catholic care directives are enforced at University Hospital.

They said the U of L medical school will not merge and all services, such as vasectomies and tubal ligations will still be provided, though possibly at another facility. But committee co-chair Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, says the alternate facilities may work for procedures that can be scheduled beforehand, but not for emergencies.

“I don’t need my beliefs—and I’m Catholic—I don’t need my beliefs pushed on somebody else,” said Burch the day after the meeting in an interview with WFPL News. “I would refuse to do that. I’ll be darned if I want to go into a hospital and they say, ‘We can’t do this here we can’t do that here,’ because the Catholic Church is opposed to it,”  says committee co-chair Tom Burch of Louisville.

He says the best option would be to exempt University Hospital from Catholic rules. Burch plans to send a list of questions about the merger to the principals. Specifically, he wants to know the religious affiliation of the merged entity’s management boards.

“I think everybody has a right to know who these people are and what would move them in one director or another. Some peoples’ religion causes them to do a thing they might not want to do,” he says.

Burch’s request has drawn criticism, but he insists it isn’t over the line, since lawmakers routinely volunteer their religion.

He expects to call the principals back to Frankfort for another hearing early next year.

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Local News

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

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.

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Local News

“Hospital Within A Hospital” Possible Solution for Healthcare Merger Concerns

Catholic hospitals, like most religious healthcare institutions, follow a set of medical ethics based in religion. It’s probably unnoticeable for a patient with a broken leg, but for others, the difference is clear. There’s a gap between what the Catholic church deems acceptable and what the law allows in reproductive services. That gap includes abortion, stem cell research, vasectomies, treatments for infertility, emergency contraception for rape victims and birth control counseling.

It’s a gap that many are concerned will be created when University of Louisville Hospital merges with Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare and a division of Catholic Health Initiatives.