Today, Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein and LSU System Executive Vice President for Health Care and Medical Education Redesign Dr. Frank Opelka announced a public-private partnership agreement is under way for Walter O. Moss Regional Medical Center with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and its partner, West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital.  

This agreement is similar to the historic public-private partnerships announced last month for Interim LSU Hospital and its successor University Medical Center in New Orleans with Louisiana Children's Medical Center; Leonard J. Chabert Hospital in Houma with Ochsner Health System and Terrebonne General Medical Center; and University Medical Center in Lafayette with its neighbor, Lafayette General Medical Center. The first such partnership for the LSU System was the landmark agreement between Earl K. Long in Baton Rouge with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

"The partnership announced today for Walter O. Moss Regional Medical Center marks our continued progress in modernizing Louisiana's public health care system," Opelka said.  "This is the fifth proposed agreement for South Louisiana, strengthening safety-net medical care, enhancing opportunities for medical students and creating a more sustainable health care system. Each partnership is locally driven, making better use of existing resources and keeping care available in these communities."

"We've worked with LSU over the past several months to tackle a long-needed restructuring of the State's public hospital system, while ensuring that our path maintains critical services and offers new opportunities for students," said Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "With the invaluable contributions of the region's legislative delegation and the local provider community, we've worked to ensure this plan meets the needs of Southwest Louisiana and builds a stronger foundation for the future." 

LSU has been working to accelerate a system redesign through public-private partnerships over the past several months due to Congress's sudden action in July that reduced Louisiana's Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rate to the lowest it has been in more than 25 years.  The FMAP reduction eliminated $126.9 million in State General Funds from the LSU Health System's budget, which amounts to a total reduction of $329.2 million when federal funds that would have been used for match are considered.  This funding loss has prompted immediate and significant reform of the State's health care programs.

LSU officials in October announced a plan to balance their budget in light of these unexpected FMAP reductions that keeps all hospitals operational and maintains critical services, including the medical home-model clinics that provide much of the care to recipients in the public hospital system today.

The final, and most instrumental, part of this plan involved establishing public-private partnerships, such as the one announced today for Walter O. Moss Regional Medical Center in Lake Charles.

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, like the other private partner hospitals in the State, will make lease payments to the LSU system. This allows LSU to avoid previously planned staff layoffs at Moss and maintain patient services at the existing location while a final agreement is reached. These payments are part of Lake Charles Memorial Hospital's investment to strengthen the local health system.

West Cameron Calcasieu Hospital will sub-lease portions of the Moss property from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. The partner hospitals will assume responsibility for facility upkeep and operations. 

Lake Charles Memorial will expand its role in the clinical care, medical research and education programs provided through Moss, which will continue serving as the safety-net hospital in Southwest Louisiana. This agreement also preserves graduate medical agreement in the area, sustaining the long-standing LSU family medicine residency program in place at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

Once the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with Moss is finalized, the payments Lake Charles Memorial Hospital will make can be credited toward the cost of the lease of the hospital and its related facilities.

Local officials and hospital leaders praised the agreement as a positive step in creating a stronger, more sustainable public hospital presence in the area.

"I am excited to be part of this historic announcement for the future of health care in our area, and I look forward to working with the staff at the partnering hospitals, our local health care providers, who offer valuable services to the residents of Southwest Louisiana, and my colleagues in the Louisiana Legislature on the next phase of creating a top-quality medical system to serve our residents," said Louisiana House of Representatives Speaker Chuck Kleckley.

"During these tough financial times, Lake Charles Memorial Health System has taken the lead in preserving the health care safety net for the working poor and uninsured served by Moss Regional," said Larry Graham, CEO and President of Lake Charles Memorial Health System. "As Lake Charles' only community-owned, not-for-profit hospital and as the region's health care leader, we have a legacy of stepping up to provide critical health care access based on the needs of the patients we serve."

"Historically, strong, quality outpatient clinics and support services have been essential to the Moss Regional Hospital program, and West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital is extremely pleased to work with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, LSU, LDH, our legislative delegation, and the dedicated physicians and staff members of Moss Regional Hospital to provide continuity of care for its current and future patients," said Bill Hankins, Chief Executive Officer of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. "West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital looks forward to the final cooperative endeavor agreement that will allow our hospital to sublease and/or manage general, gynecological and surgical services at Moss Regional Hospital.  We would like to thank Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for assuming the leadership role in this cooperative endeavor as we collectively look to strengthen the services at Moss Regional Hospital."

"Moss is an integral part of delivering health care in our community, and I am grateful to the administration and staff for the loyalty and quality of care they have provided in the Lake Charles area over the years. I commend Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, and their partner, West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, for taking leadership to establish an agreement that keeps this hospital open to provide vital services for our residents who rely on the public hospital system for their medical treatment," said Sen. Ronnie Johns.

Leaders at both Walter O. Moss Regional Medical Center and Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, along with West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, are creating a memorandum of understanding to formally enter into a partnership, which will be presented to the LSU Board of Supervisors for approval. Once the memorandum is approved, LSU will work with the partner hospitals to finalize a cooperative endeavor agreement that details the terms of the new relationship.