Community urged to rally around UMC cuts

by Heather Miller

A rally scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at the University Medical Center sign aims to save Lafayette's charity hospital from devastating budget cuts that threaten the quality of health care for thousands in Acadiana.

At 5 p.m. Thursday, the sidewalks in front of University Medical Center will be lined with residents rallying to save University Medical Center from dire mid-year budget cuts that, if implemented, could significantly impact the delivery of health care services in Acadiana - and not just for the poor and uninsured.

As reported in The Independent's latest news story, "The Bitterest Pill," news of impending layoffs reached UMC employees Jan. 14 when the LSU Health System announced that it will be forced to slash $29 million from its budget. The mid-year budget deficit will impact seven LSU system hospitals statewide and could mean the loss of 80-100 employees at UMC as well as the hospital's ENT clinic, labor and delivery department, neonatal ICU unit, ophthalmology department and pediatric clinic.

The Acadiana legislative delegation is working diligently to stave off as many budget cuts as possible, but it's still unknown whether all - or any - of the programs at stake will be saved.

A Facebook page, Save UMC of Lafayette Jobs, headed by Linda Reddoch, a mother whose 5-year-old son receives much-needed treatments at UMC's Pediatric Clinic, urges those attending the rally to "bring your children and your posters and your smiling, happy faces!!!"

"Without UMC, private or nonprofit hospitals would be forced to accept more patients who can't pay for their care," she says on the Facebook page. "That cost would be shifted to your hospital bill and ultimately to your health-insurance premiums."

As noted by a recent Weekly Credit Outlook from Moody's Investor Services, "many Medicaid-dependent, uninsured patients that formerly used services provided through LSU's public hospital system are likely to seek care at non-governmental facilities, including private not-for-profit (NFP) hospitals."

"Adding new indigent patients is a credit negative for the private NFP hospitals ... Hence, it will have a negative impact on hospitals' profitability and debt service coverage," the report says.