MONROE, La - Louisiana is facing a massive budget deficit and it's going to take hundreds of millions to fix the problem.
The governor's plan to fix the budget blunder could lead to the possible shuttering of a number of Louisiana's public hospitals.
Wednesday, officials from UH Conway and its operating company, Biomedical Research Foundation, met with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce to discuss what these cuts and closures could mean for UH Conway and the area.
Steve Skrivanos, Board Chairman with the Biomedical Research Foundation says "they're going to cut the five surviving hospitals by a projected 3% and the other four are not going to get funded at all."
According to Skrivanos, those four hospitals are in Bogalusa, Houma, Lake Charles and Alexandria.
University Health Conway in Monroe is one of the five hospitals that could see a 3% cut in funding. Skrivanos, says these potential cuts aren't going to be the end of the hospital.
"We're not going to go bankrupt, it's not going to be a terrible scenario, but it does limit us in our ability to grow and get additional capital to take care of the aging facilities that we've taken over," says Skrivanos.
But, the closure of the four hospitals could put a strain on the surviving hospitals who would have to provide more services with less funding.
Dr. Lester Johnson, Board Chairman at UH Conway, says the closure of any of the safety-net hospitals would impact other hospitals.
"If you close four hospitals, I think the wisdom would be state-wide that the ones that are left would be inundated... if the safety net in the Alexandria area is forced to close their mission, you can only imagine what it'll mean to Conway here in Monroe."
Johnson goes on to express just how irreparable the loss of any of the safety net hospitals would be.
"What we're talking about with these particular cuts, if you cut out four major safety net hospitals, those safety net hospitals are called safety nets for a reason-we're going to lose lives," says Johnson.
These cuts aren't set in stone. There's still the opportunity for the state's budget deficit to be addressed, that's if the governor calls another special legislative session.
That session would have to be called at the end of the current legislative session, but before July 1, 2016-the beginning of the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
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