State's position on hospital merger expected Fri. - WDRB 41 Louisville News

State's position on hospital merger expected Friday

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- We may learn the state's decision on the Louisville hospital merger on Friday.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has said he wants to make a decision by the end of the year.

"I am going to make every effort to meet that deadline and have an answer," Beshear said during his end-of-the-year interview on Wednesday.

Any proposed merger deal must have Gov. Beshear's approval.

He was awaiting a report from Attorney General Jack Conway regarding whether the merger is in the state's best interests. And it will come at least one day after Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell released his consultant's report on the merger.

That report from a national expert says University of Louisville hospital either will find "a merger partner or risk being orphaned."

It warns the state must ensure that care for the poor remain in University Hospital's mission under any merger program.  The report also says University Hospital could face financial problems without a merger, especially as new federal government health insurance laws take effect in the next few years.

But, the report also states, control through Catholic Health Initiatives could possibly allow University Hospital to close down any essential but unprofitable services -- meaning care for the poor.

Some in the community oppose it because University Hospital would no longer perform procedures, to follow medical directives of the Catholic Church.

Beshear would not say Wednesday if he favors or opposes the merger.  He noted some of the community concerns amidst conflicting opinions whether University Hospital is a publicly-owned entity.

"On the other side of the ledger are the issues about a public entity that we now have and losing control. And is there a reasonable way to get that entity back if things change, and all of the health issues, the reproductive issues and things that folks have been addressing as we've gone along," Beshear said.

The merger involves Catholic Health Initiatives combining with University of Louisville hospital and the Jewish Hospital and Saint Mary's healthcare systems in Louisville.

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