The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is asking for an attorney general's opinion about whether Gov. Bobby Jindal can close a state-run mental health facility in St. Tammany Parish without legislative approval.
Sen. Jack Donahue, a Republican from Mandeville, says closing Southeast Louisiana Hospital in a parish that has one of the state's highest suicide rates is unwise. He's pushing to keep the facility open.
Gov. Bobby Jindal says he's confident LSU's network of public hospitals and clinics will protect health care services, despite cuts that strip a quarter of the system's funding.
Lawmakers have said they don't understand how the university-run health care system can shrink its budget by $329 million this year without shutting facilities that take care of the poor and uninsured.
But Jindal on Tuesday told reporters that "LSU is well on their way to presenting a plan that's going to protect critical services."
Almost 60 years since it opened, the Southeast Louisiana Hospital — a psychiatric facility that gained national notoriety in 1959 when then-Gov. Earl Long was briefly committed there — is preparing to close down its daily operations.
The Times-Picayune reports that the hospital's closing is part of an $859 million cut to the state's federal Medicaid program.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals hopes to send all 176 beds occupied at the hospital to other public and private hospitals in the state.
LSU System President William Jenkins says decisions haven't been made about how to strip $329 million from the university's hospital system. He offered no assurances to lawmakers that hospitals and clinics wouldn't be faced with closure.
A leader of Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration warned Thursday that hospital cuts could be worse if state income estimates don't improve to fill the remaining gap in the Medicaid budget.
Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein told House members any additional cuts would "fall primarily on the LSU hospitals."