Senate Concurrent Resolution 48 squeaked out of the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee Tuesday May 6 by a 10-8 vote. Voting for SCR 48, which will result in the permanent closure of the Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville were state representatives:
- Simon [Health & Welfare Committee Chair]
- Hoffmann [Health & Welfare Committee Vice Chair]
- “Jay” Morris
All but Hill are Republicans. Voting against SCR 48 / Huey P. Long’s closure were:
- Patrick Williams
Havard and Wilmott are Republicans, and the rest, plus Hill are Democrats.
May 6, 2014 House H&W Video link
Though SCR 48 was like its predecessors in Lake Charles and Baton Rouge set for near certain passage, even with the near domination of Health and Welfare Committee time and unlimited / uninterrupted testimony by SCR 48 supporters, riveting testimony by opponents of Huey P. Long Medical Center’s closure confirmed that the Charity system hospital’s operator LSU and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals DHH has already effectively closed the hospital. Two courageous Huey P. Long physicians in particular testified that they had been ordered by LSU not to admit new patients, effective February 28. Further, this led to Tulane University Medical Center March 30 to end its largest medical residency rotation outside of the New Orleans area.
LSU officials queried about the actual operative status of the hospital hemmed and hawed when asked point-blank whether the hospital was effectively closed. And by the time the two Huey P. Long physicians testified as well as others (including yours truly) — witness testimony was severely curtailed by Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Scott Simon, leading Committee member Representative Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) to protest the violation of House rules for Simon’s disproportionate favor of SCR 48 proponents testimony over opponents.
Louisiana Revised Statute 17:1518.1 (F) stipulates:
F. Neither the Huey P. Long Medical Center nor the emergency room shall be closed without legislative approval. The health sciences center shall not authorize the Huey P. Long Medical Center to reduce health care services provided by the facility in any manner that causes annual expenditures for the facility to be reduced on an annualized basis by greater than thirty-five percent of the previous year actual spending level. Funding may be provided by any local, regional, state, federal, or private sources to augment existing funding or to restore reduced funding. Legislative approval may be granted by either concurrent resolution or other appropriate legislative action in an appropriation act.
Perhaps it was expected SCR 48 would pass. Nevertheless the 10-8 vote indicates that despite the full-court press for privatization of Louisiana’s public Charity Hospital system, significant questions as to the probity of the Jindal administration (and its LSU puppets) in even upholding state law are flaring hotter.
SCR 48 has been scheduled for full House debate Wednesday May 14. In our next post, Defend Louisiana Public Healthcare will suggest that with a redoubled effort Louisiana House members can put a monkey wrench into Governor Jindal’s prurient quest to dismantle Louisiana’s iconic Charity Hospital system (a quest that is readily apparent set to not only wreck the state budget and even break the law to accomplish).