Planned January layoffs delayed at LSU hospitals
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Nearly all 1,500 state employee layoffs scheduled for January at LSU hospitals across south Louisiana have been put on hold, as university leaders continue negotiating with private hospitals to take over some public hospital operations.
The Advocate reports that LSU hospitals leader Frank Opelka sent an email update to state lawmakers Tuesday, notifying them that he won’t move forward with civil service approval of the layoff plans for seven hospitals under the LSU Health Care Services Division.
“Since those discussions are ongoing and the partners have indicated a desire to maintain as many services as possible pending agreements that would continue, and possibly expand, such services into the future LSU HCSD has delayed much of the Civil Service layoff proposals from consideration by the state Civil Service Commission,” Opelka wrote.
Opelka, LSU System executive vice president, told lawmakers that the only layoffs currently anticipated involve five workers at W.O. Moss Medical Center in Lake Charles and 42 employees at Bogalusa Medical Center.
He noted, however, that if public-private arrangements aren’t solidified, the layoff plans could be reinstituted.
The layoffs were planned after Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration levied more than $300 million in cuts on the LSU hospital system for the poor and uninsured, in response to a congressional reduction in federal Medicaid financing for Louisiana.
It is unclear how the HCSD hospitals’ budget will be balanced by June 30 under the amended approach where at least for now there are no job layoffs and most services are retained.
Budget balancing at LSU’s three hospitals in north and central Louisiana and private sector negotiations there are being handled separately.