LSU hospital deals still pending in federal review, despite secretary's statement to lawmakers



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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Louisiana's health secretary told lawmakers that the state expected to receive federal approval for six LSU hospital privatization contracts by last week's end. It still hasn't arrived.

Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said Tuesday the lack of an approval letter doesn't mean the rewritten deals have hit any snags. She said she's assured in her conversations with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, that there are no problems with the financing plans.

"We're confident that we'll receive approval, and we don't anticipate any disruption in services," Kliebert said. "They just have several stages of the review process."

Gov. Bobby Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU-run hospitals without first getting needed federal approval. The privatization deals rely on federal Medicaid money to work. CMS refused financing plans for the six privatization arrangements in May, so the state reworked the contracts in hopes of reaching a compromise.

A spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wouldn't comment on the status of the agency's review.

The privatization deals govern the management transfer of hospitals in New Orleans, Lafayette, Bogalusa, Shreveport and Monroe and the closure of LSU's Lake Charles hospital, moving its inpatient services to a private hospital.

Without federal approval, the arrangements could fall apart and the state could be on the hook for repaying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money spent on them.

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