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Lafayette’s University Medical Center Says “We Are Open For Business”

University Medical Center Building
University Medical Center Building (photo courtesy Ken Romero)

The LSU Health Science System has announced $329 million in new cuts to offset federal cuts to the state’s Medicaid budget. System spokesperson Dr. Fred Cerise says the board gave them some specific guidelines. “They said that they didn’t want to close any training programs, so you’ll see where the cuts are concentrated more heavily on those hospitals where we don’t have training,“ says Dr. Cerise. Those hospitals, according to Dr. Cerise, are W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center in Lake Charles and Lallie Kemp Hospital in Independence. 

So what does this mean for University Medical Center in Lafayette, which does have a training program? UMC has already been hit with $4,000,000 in budget cuts before the end of the fiscal year. Glenn Craig, the interim administrator at UMC, says the hospital will directly get hit with approximately $6,730,000 in budget cuts. Craig says the targeted areas of the cuts are the “elimination of salaries that we had already achieved through previous cuts but also cuts that were made back in March and then (the) reduction in radiology physician contracts that we had already negotiated.”

Craig says they have also signed a new contract with a new group of physicians “that is going to be less cost(ly) than what they were paying before” by paying the new group of physicians less than what they were paying the previous group. Craig says they had a lot of these reductions in place beginning July 1st, allowing them to place these reductions before the announcement was made public.

“The whole idea was to protect, number one, the service that we provide for the patients here, but, also (number) two, the medical education programs, because we do have a large number of medical education programs, that was the main thing that the system was trying to do was to protect those programs because that is the future of medicine in the Louisiana area,” says Craig. UMC’s interim administrator points out that they have two primary care, facility-based residency programs in internal medicine and family medicine and several other residency programs where the residents, based in New Orleans, rotate through UMC on a three or four month rotation, primarily in surgical areas. Craig says,

At this point there is no real impact, hopefully, on any of the patients that are going to be treated here…We are open for business and we are providing the same levels of care that we have provided in the past.

Craig says this plan that has been approved is not a long-term fix but it does allow LSU time to develop long-term strategic plans to address the cuts to Medicaid.

As far as cuts to the LSU Health Science System as a whole, the system will absorb most of this year’s cuts in areas that don’t impact federal matching dollars. Dr. Cerise says there is no way to meet the new goals without cutting both jobs and services somewhere. He says its very hard to make these kinds of decisions because he knows that for every cut there are people who’s lives are affected. Dr. Cerise said,

It was very difficult to come up with those specific cuts because we know these cuts are going to translate into reduced access for services to those patients that we have to take care of.

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