Baton Rouge hospital exec predicts dire consequences to Louisiana health care system if budget cuts become reality

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center President and CEO Scott Wester is warning of the dire consequences the state’s health care system will face if state lawmakers do not solve the looming $700 million fiscal cliff.

In a conference call underway this afternoon, Wester says if proposed budget cuts were to go into effect they would end the state’s partnership with OLOL to provide indigent care through a graduate medical education program with LSU, and nearly a dozen facilities serving low-income and Medicaid patients would be forced to close immediately. Among them: the North Baton Rouge emergency room on Airline Highway, the LSU Health Baton Rouge Urgent Care clinics on Airline Highway and North Foster Drive, LSU Health Baton Rouge Clinics and Mid City Pharmacy, chemotherapy services at the north clinic, Perkins Surgery Center for routine patient procedures, and the region’s only designated trauma center.

Additionally, clinical training for LSU School of Medicine programs would end at OLOL, putting residency programs into immediate jeopardy, and LSU physician faculty would no longer have privileges at OLOL, effective immediately.

“What started as an effort save state money will actually end up costing more,” Wester says. “Patients who have preventive and coordinated care now will, instead, show up in every emergency room in our community and will be far more ill.”

Wester says the risk of inadequate funding will also mean Medicaid access will be terminated to more than 500,000 individuals.

Wester is urging the state to uphold its partnership agreement with OLOL, first signed in 2013 when the Jindal administration began privatizing the state’s healthcare. Wester says he understands the difficult budget decisions facing state lawmakers.

“But no one wants to return to the broken system of the past,” he says.

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