Monday, October 31, 2005

Public hospitals in Louisiana: getting flushed?

The great sucking noise you hear is Louisiana's public hospital system going down the toilet.
"We're out of money, roughly after Thanksgiving," Donald Smithburg, chief executive of the Louisiana State University Health Care Services Division, told reporters. "We are running out of time."

Smithburg said the system, Louisiana's largest health care provider with 1.2 million patients annually before the storm, will have to furlough 2,900 of its 8,000 employees next week, the first step toward permanent layoffs on Dec. 17. (Yahoo News via DailyKos)
Both Charity and University hospitals in New Orleans are total losses after Hurricane Katrina but so far FEMA has made no decision as to whether they will qualify for federal disaster funding for replacement (estimated $750 million). No hurry, I guess.

As a result of the closures, the other seven hospitals in the system are bearing the brunt and will need $200 million in interim financial support. Because they weren't directly damaged by the storm, however, they may not be eligible. With proposed new cuts in Medicaid and Medicare, the rest of the hospital system will be even more stressed.

The richest nation on earth is showing its face. It ain't pretty.