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Louisiana's doctors worry about LSU hospital cuts

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's doctors are complaining about a lack of detail and preparation as LSU slashes spending in cuts that affect training programs for the state's future physicians.

Andy Blalock, president of the Louisiana State Medical Society, told The Advocate that the cuts mean the state's "best and brightest" medical students and doctors-in-training could leave the state because of the tumult.

"We have created another tsunami or Hurricane Katrina-type condition in regard to graduate medical education in the state," Blalock said Monday.

Gov. Bobby Jindal cut more than $300 million from LSU's 10-hospital health care system that supplies many of the medical training sites in Louisiana, in response to a drop in federal Medicaid funding.

"We will be aggressive and responsible at the same time and do something that is truly transformational as far as medical education," said Jindal's top budget adviser, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols.

Jindal is pushing to move more graduate medical education training to private hospitals, but few agreements are in place so far to take on the doctors-in-training or the medical students who will be displaced from the LSU hospitals that are shutting services.

LSU medical school statistics show that 70 percent of those who do their physician training in Louisiana continue to practice in the state.

The 7,000-member state medical society is getting calls daily from concerned doctors and medical students, said Blalock, a Lafayette nephrologist who specializes in kidney care.

LSU hospitals chief Frank Opelka, who is leading the health care restructuring, denied the doctors' concerns are widespread, saying they are coming from a "small number of physicians in the state."

"We are more than happy to meet with them," Opelka said. "We think we have a really good plan for going into public-private partnerships ... that expands the graduate medical education experience. Change is difficult for everybody."


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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