Ramsey says UofL Hospital must find a partner to survive financially; suitors could include CHI

02/20/2012 09:33 PM

The University of Louisville Hospital must partner — but not merge — with another health care network in order to continue its mission of providing care to the uninsured, said James Ramsey, the university’s president.

UofL is putting out a request for proposal for hospital networks, including out-of-state based systems, to team up. And among those potential suitors could be Catholic Health Initiatives — the entity that owns St. Joseph Health Care system and was involved in the proposed three-way merger until Gov. Steve Beshear scuttled UofL taking part in it. (7:15 of the interview)

But Ramsey said Monday on Pure Politics that the UofL Hospital needs a financial partner to continue paying nurses and doctors and buying needed equipment. But he wouldn’t put a deadline on the move.

“Right now is a very difficult time for the University of Louisville Hospital,” Ramsey said (8:00). “We’ve just been through the worst economic times since the 1930s — the Great Depression. And at one point, 30 percent of the customers who came in to the University of Louisville Hospital … did not have health insurance. … We didn’t turn anyone away.”

This time, however, the potential deal won’t seek a full asset merger, which was the main sticking point for the governor.

“The control will be with the University of Louisville Hospital,” Ramsey said (6:35)

Ramsey said he and a team initially chose the approach of a full merger with Jewish Hospital and CHI against the advice of consultants because that path was the “highest risk but greatest reward.”

“We were actually advised not to pursue that, but we thought that was the greatest reward and had the greatest probability of really enhancing health care for all people in our community — low income, high income,” Ramsey said (1:10 of the interview).

He said UofL went down that road because of “resources and number two, the resources would be used to provide better care.”

Ramsey said he understands the “legitimate concern” Beshear had with approving the merger but he disagrees with the governor and Attorney General Jack Conway’s conclusions that the university’s hospital is a public asset.

“It has a public agenda,” Ramsey said when asked if he believed the hospital was a public asset (2:20 -5:40). “… We have a public purpose and whether you call it owned and a public asset or a tax exempt entity just like Nortons and Baptist and Jewish (hospitals), we have a public purpose and we will not walk from that purpose.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.