The value of a robust, civically engaged community foundation can’t be overstated. Exhibit A: the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. BRAF, it was reported in late March, has brought in several hundred thousand dollars toward its fundraising goal of $2.9 million to help the state Department of Health and Hospitals administer Louisiana’s Medicaid program. The cash infusion is meant to help DHH better administer care not only for current Medicaid recipients, but to give DHH the administrative capacity to handle an expected expansion of the Medicaid program sought by Gov. John Bel Edwards via the Affordable Care Act. It’s been estimated that some quarter million working-poor Louisiana residents who don’t currently qualify for Medicaid would be eligible if the program expands. Many of those folks currently address their acute medical needs in hospital emergency rooms, which drives up health care costs for everyone.
Clouds loom over University Hospital & Clinics in Lafayette, the former state-operated charity hospital (University Medical Center) taken over by Lafayette General Health as part of a 2012 public-private partnership. LGH has been a capable steward of the partnership. The state not so much. The state only has enough funds to meet its end of the partnerships at two of the nine public-private charity hospitals in the state — Shreveport and New Orleans, which also serve as LSU Medical School facilities. If the state reneges, it would leave hospitals like UHC in Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Bogalusa, Houma, Monroe and elsewhere without their share of state funding. David Callecod, Lafayette General Health’s CEO, told lawmakers during the special session in February that if the state can’t meet its obligation LGH will likely have to walk away from the partnership, potentially shuttering Lafayette’s lone charity hospital. The consequences of that could be devastating to thousands in the Acadiana area.