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State lawmaker asks AG about LSU hospital plan


Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A New Orleans lawmaker said Wednesday that he's asked for the attorney general's opinion on whether Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration can move ahead with privatizing most of the LSU-run hospitals without legislative approval.

Rep. Jared Brossett said he filed an official request for legal guidance on the matter with Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

Brossett, D-New Orleans, said he believes that because the hospitals are public assets, turning them over to private managers should require legislative backing.

"This opinion is necessary to preserve the integrity of the legislative process and the legislative branch's right to be involved in issues impacting the welfare of the state," he wrote in his request to Caldwell.

The Jindal administration has announced agreements with private operators to manage the university hospitals in New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma and Lake Charles. Administration leaders say similar deals also are in the works for LSU's hospitals in Monroe, Pineville and Bogalusa.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in savings from the privatizations are assumed in Jindal's budget proposal for next year.

None of the financial arrangements has been completed - or unveiled to the public.

Jindal administration officials have said the completed agreements will go to lawmakers on the joint House and Senate budget committee for review, but they haven't said they will ask for approval before beginning the privatizations.

The university-run hospitals provide safety net care for the uninsured and help train most of the state's medical students.

"The state has an interest in ensuring the continued existence of an equitable, accessible, affordable public health care system that delivers quality services and is accountable to the communities it serves," Brossett wrote.

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