Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has inserted his office into the farrago involving the planned merger between U of L Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the governor explained that “The Commonwealth of Kentucky has two roles in the review of the proposed merger between University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare, and the Saint Joseph Healthcare System, which is part of the CHI network of hospitals. Those roles are to review the legal issues associated with the merger and, just as importantly, to review the public policy of how the University of Louisville Hospital will continue to honor its mission as a public teaching hospital that provides access and care to citizens, especially those who are indigent.”
The governor went on to remind all parties to the controversy that the Commonwealth must approve changes to the existing leases of public land and facilities as well as any changes to the agreements that provide for the operation of the hospital. “Before those approvals will be given, additional discussion and transparency will be needed to provide full disclosure on how the public mission of University Hospital will be honored,” said Gov. Beshear.
Gov. Beshear indicated that each time he has spoken with University of Louisville representatives associated with this hospital merger, he has been repeatedly assured that University Hospital’s public mission would continue in every aspect of care. He cautioned, however, that “…(I)t is clear there are growing concerns within the community about issues related to the hospital’s future level of access to medical services, and those concerns need to be fully vetted before the Commonwealth takes the legal steps required to approve this merger.”
The governor is proposing to hold a series of “conversations” with the principals in the proposed merger and other interested parties, “In order to address the continuing questions related to health care access and availability.” “The first step in this process will be a meeting with Mayor Greg Fischer, Auditor Crit Luallen, Attorney General Jack Conway, representatives of my administration including Cabinet Secretary Mary Lassiter, Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller, Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes and Finance Secretary Lori Flanery, and the principals involved in the hospital merger to discuss how University Hospital’s public mission will continue to be met,” he explained.
Gov. Beshear also promised to seek additional input from the community and other interested parties to ensure a full review of “…the many questions that must be answered before the proposed merger can move forward.”
“This process will be deliberate and thoughtful, and we will take whatever time is necessary to resolve these issues,” he concluded.