Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and the Department of Health today announced the latest round of payments that are set to go out to hospitals that cared for uninsured patients last year. 

The first payments will be made to East Jefferson and West Jefferson hospitals Tuesday, Jan. 30.  East Jefferson will get $3,639,039 and West Jefferson will be paid $8,656,710.

These payments are in addition to payments made last year from special federal funding for providers who treated uninsured patients in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“A stable health care system is vital to Louisiana’s recovery.  That is why we are doing all we can at the state level and advocating aggressively at the federal level to assist our private hospitals who have stepped up to care for our uninsured citizens,” Gov. Blanco said.  “I committed during my meeting with Jefferson Parish officials to get these funds out to their local hospitals by the first of February and today I am pleased to keep that commitment.”

The Governor met with Jefferson parish officials and their local hospital executives January 16 at the request of Rep. John Alario, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.  During that meeting, the Governor shared a LDH letter with the Jefferson officials honoring a request by hospitals for additional time to turn in their paperwork before checks were dispersed.  She also spoke with hospital officials regarding the challenges brought on by a shortage of health care professionals.

Gov. Blanco provided the funding for these payments during the 2006 regular session.  The Appropriations Bill, approved by the Legislature, set aside $120 million to pay non-rural community hospitals for treating additional uninsured patients after LSU’s Charity Hospital closed due to Katrina, with many former patients of Charity seeking care in other hospitals. 

Rep. John Alario, Chairman of the Appropriation’s Committee, championed the legislative effort to provide state funds to private hospitals. 

“Our families need access to quality care regardless of their ability to pay and I am pleased that our community hospitals have been willing to take on this additional care and these additional costs.  These state funds will go a long way in helping the hospitals continue their work to care for the state’s uninsured as we bring our charity system back on line,” Rep. Alario said. 

Hospital funding will be distributed following a reimbursement formula that was outlined in the legislation. Payments for qualifying hospitals are determined by the cost of uninsured patients compared to the total costs.

There are two formulas to calculate costs; one for hospitals in the affected parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, Cameron and Calcasieu, and another formula for all other qualifying hospitals statewide.

In order to determine the proper payment for each of the estimated 48 qualifying hospitals, the Department of Health collected data regarding the number of uninsured patients treated this past year; as well as information contained in hospital cost reports.

“We are processing the claims and making the payments as quickly as we receive the information from all hospitals for payment,” said Dr. Fred Cerise, LDH secretary. “The hospitals requested they have until January 12 to submit all of the necessary data to us.  Thus, we will have verified the claims and made the payments in less than a month, in most instances.”

The goal of the Department of Health is to complete this round of payments to all qualifying hospitals by mid February.