As we await Louisiana Supreme Court action on the unconstitutionality of the closure of Huey P. Long Medical Center

“Hospital closure drives up costs for medical care for Rapides Parish inmates” — The Town Talk

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Hope all of you are as well as you can be. My absence has been in part because of the passing of long-time civil rights and feminist activist (and my dear friend) Katherine “Kit” Senter, who died June 26. She was 87 years, 11 months old.

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A proposal: Using the ‘public-private-partnerships’ of the LSU Charity hospitals to expand Louisiana Medicaid

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Were LSU honorable, it would halt the closure of Huey P. Long until the Louisiana Supreme Court rules

Checking the website for the Huey P. Long Medical Center, I found the following:

This is an official public notice that the Huey P. Long Medical Center will be closing at 12:01 a.m., Monday, June 30, 2014. …

It has been an honor for Huey P. Long’s staff to serve patients and their families from across Pineville, Alexandria and neighboring communities.

Were LSU Shreveport and the LSU Board of Supervisors really honorable, it would not be proceeding with this closure until the Louisiana State Supreme Court rules on Parker et al v. State Senate of Louisiana, et al.

Meanwhile, towards the conclusion of the Alexandria Town Talk report about Monday June 23rd’s district court decision, another consequence of the closure of Huey P. Long was revealed: The closure of Central Louisiana’s only morgue:

Services previously provided at Huey P. Long are now being offered at clinics operated by Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital and Rapides Regional Medical Center.
Sen. Gallot lauded the efforts of the two hospitals. “I believe that Cabrini and Rapides Regional have done an exemplary job of taking over the services that they have in such a short period of time. They have done an incredible job of ramping up, but there are some gaps that exist,” he said.
For example, he said, it wasn’t discovered until the last week of the session that the only morgue available was at Huey P. Long, and officials had to scramble to assure the morgue would continue to operate after the closure of the hospital.
“You rush to do these things without thinking about all of the implications that arise from these actions,” Gallot said.

 

BREAKING: Judge rules SCR 48, Senate notice of meeting enacting it unconstitutional, violation of the Louisiana Open Meetings Law

See the news stories linked below. We expect a further update once the written order of Judge Robert Downing is made available to us.

The Advocate / Joe Gyan: Opponents of Pineville medical center closure win partial victory Monday (Judge rules lawmakers violated open meetings law

The Associated Press / Melinda Deslatte: LSU hospital closure ruled unconstitutional

The Times-Picayune / Nola.com: LSU hospital closure ruled unconstitutional

The Town Talk: Judge: Huey P. Long Medical Center closure bill mishandled

 

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Court hearing on Open Meetings suit impacting Huey P. Long Medical Center’s closure postponed until June 23; Other related news

The hearing on Edwin Ray Parker, et al v. The Senate of the State of Louisiana, et al No. 630969, Section 26, originally scheduled to be held Friday June 13 at the 19th Judicial Court, 300 North Blvd., Baton Rouge has been postponed with the agreement of all parties until Monday June 23, 2014 at 9:30am in Judge Ad Hoc Robert Downing’s 19th Judicial District Court.

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Media and blog coverage related to Parker et al, v. The Senate et al, jump to our Huey P. Long Medical Center page HERE.

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BREAKING NEWS: Attempt to repurpose the Rev. Avery C. Alexander Charity Hospital as New Orleans’ new City Hall is apparently DOA/Dead on Arrival:

The Times-Picayune / Nola.com:Charity Hospital plan flatlines, Mayor Landrieu says

The New Orleans Advocate:  “Mayor scraps plans for city complex at old Charity site

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LINK to Keynote Presentation announcement by Save Charity Hospital (dot) Com‘s Janet Hays scheduled for Saturday June 14, 2014 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church on the future of Big Charity Hospital.

Louisiana Voice: Lawsuit claims State got cart ahead of the horse in closure of Huey P. Long Hospital in Pineville, layoff of 100+ employees

Lawsuit claims State got cart ahead of the horse in closure of Huey P. Long Hospital in Pineville, layoff of 100+ employees

Louisiana Voice’s Tom Aswell addresses the latest developments regarding the Huey P. Long Medical Center, comment magnificently served on wry:

Did the Jindal administration get the cart ahead of the horse when it announced the layoff of more than 100 state employees at a state hospital in central Louisiana?

As if Gov. Bobby Jindal did not have enough on his plate with his attempts to gain approval form the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for his hospital privatization plan, now the battle over the closure of one hospital has moved into the courts.

Read the rest of the Louisiana Voice commentary HERE.

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The hearing on Parker et al v. Louisiana State Senate et al is currently scheduled to be held Friday June 13, 2014, 10:30am, in  Judge Kay Bates court section XXVI, 19th Judicial Court, 300 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.

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Other news coverage on Parker et al v. Louisiana State Senate et al:

“Lawsuit filed seeking to stop closure of LSU hospital in Pineville” — Nola.com / The Times-Picayune (AP)

“Hearing set on hospital closure” — The Advocate

“Court petition seeks to block HPL closure” –  the Alexandria Town Talk.

“Court petition seeks to block Huey P. Long Medical Center closure — The Shreveport Times.

Huey P. Long’s 1928 vision of social and economic change still relevant today; Court petition filed to block Huey P. Long Medical Center closure

Huey P. Long’s vision of social and economic change was encapsulated in a campaign speech he gave under the tree which inspired the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in St. Martinville, Louisiana — the Evangeline Oak — as noted in Long’s work EVERY MAN A KING: The Autobiography of Huey P. Long (Originally published in 1933; reissued edition 1996, De Capo Press, Page 99):

And it is here under this oak where Evangeline waited for her lover,

Gabriel, who never came. This oak is an immortal spot, made so by

Longfellow’s poem, but Evangeline is not the only one who has

waited here in disappointment. Where are the schools that you have

waited for your children to have, that have never came? Where are the

roads and the highways that you send your money to build, that are no

nearer now than ever before? Where are the institutions to care for the

sick and disabled? Evangeline wept bitter tears in her disappointment,

but it lasted through only one lifetime. Your tears in this country,

around this oak, have lasted for generations. Give me the chance to

dry the eyes of those who still weep here!

 

I cite Long in part to advise you that I am one of two plaintiffs in a petition filed June 2, 2014 by our legal counsel in Baton Rouge’s 19th Judicial Court (Parker et al v. Senate of Louisiana et alregarding Senate Concurrent Resolution 48, passed during the 2014 Regular Louisiana Legislative Session, and its proposed closure of the Huey P. Long Medical Center; and that has already received news media attention by the Alexandria Town Talk.

 

 

 

Improbable? Jindal’s attempted closure of Huey P. Long Medical Center could provide an opportunity for the state legislature to exclaim “Enough is Enough!”

Workers and patients of the Huey P. Long Medical Center (HPLMC) in Pineville, central Louisiana (“CEN-LA” as known by locales there) have observed that the hospital has been effectively closed for the past few months. Yes, its Emergency Department has been officially “open”, yet two doctors testified May 6 (see House H&W Video link) before the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee that they had been prohibited by LSU from admitting patients. March 30th saw Tulane University’s largest medical residency program with rotations outside the greater New Orleans area being forced to curtail operations at HPLMC. And for likely almost the past year and a half, the hospital’s budget has been slashed significantly more than the 35% threshold at which under Louisiana law it is impermissible to accomplish in any one fiscal year.

Yet seemingly, even as the stage appears all but certain for Senate Concurrent Resolution 48 to legislatively ordain Huey P. Long’s closure will pass out of the full Louisiana House this Wednesday, the level of discord both in the legislature, the Alexandria-Pineville-CENLA community as well as within the Jindal/LSU administration may also be signaling that, climaxing with yet another CMS advisory warning of another budget shortfall due to impermissible federal financial participation with Medicaid funding, the Jindal privatization train might be getting ready to slide off its rails.

 

The question remains in the short run whether a 53+ vote majority of the Louisiana House will proclaim THIS week that “Enough is Enough.” To be sure, there remains at least three dozen Democrats, Republicans and Independents that have already attempted to restore Huey P. Long’s FY 2014-15 funding. To secure another three dozen representatives, this blog proposes to remind readers that such a coalition was assembled twice before in the past two years. First this occurred with the November 2012 Special Session attempt (which met its House vote threshold for a legislative-wide vote but failed by 3 votes in the Louisiana Senate), and the 69-28 Louisiana House passage of HCR 74 (which had it been allowed a Louisiana Senate hearing and passage would have mandated legislative committee approval of LSU Charity Hospital system privatizations — instead of the Jindal administration’s roughshod implementation of them without legislative oversight).

 

Review of the highlighted links detailing vote totals of these two skirmishes for legislative independence perhaps stretch this blogger’s imagination to a wild surreal dimension. Yet as occurred in House Health and Welfare just a week ago, the 10-8 narrow vote to ordain into permanence Huey P. Long Medical Center’s current closure will be guaranteed to be a hard-fought affair in the full House — which may also yield yet additional reversals not unlike experienced by Louisiana public educators and state retirement system advocates — and perhaps loud enough to shout to the nation that U.S. Presidential aspirant Piyush Jindal will be on prime time in a way he had not counted on.

 

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Contact members of the Louisiana House to urge REJECTION of SCR 48. It is Scheduled for floor debate on 5/14/2014:

HEALTH CARE – Provides for legislative approval of and support to the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University for the strategic collaboration with the state in creating a new model of health care delivery in the Alexandria and Pineville area. (by closing the name sake hospital honoring Louisiana’s iconic Governor Huey P. Long).