U of L could take over its hospital's stake in Passport program, Ramsey says

06/15/2011 09:11 PM

In light of the pending hospital merger, the University of Louisville could end up taking over its hospital’s share of the Passport program, which manages health care for the poor and disabled in Louisville and 15 counties.

U of L President Jim Ramsey said on Wednesday’s edition of Pure Politics that Passport and university officials have been “in negotiations” over the fate of U of L Hospital’s share of the Passport program.

This comes as the U of L Hospital is about to absorbed into a larger health care network as part of a merger with Catholic Health Initiatives and Jewish Hospital.

“Since the University of Louisville Hospital essentially is disappearing, their ownership share of Passport has to go somewhere. It may possibly come to the University of Louisville,” Ramsey said. (Watch the Passport discussion starting at the 6:40 mark in the video).

Ramsey said officials “haven’t worked through” all the details yet.

U of L Hospital was one of the founding partners in the non-profit Passport, which manages care for the state Medicaid system. It has about a 12.5% share in Passport.

Passport came under fire last fall after a state audit revealed high spending on travel and entertainment, as well as contracts for lobbyists, that were approved by top Passport executives.

While board members of U of L Hospital were on the Passport board, the university’s trustees did not.

“The university board of trustees had no governance responsibility with Passport, and maybe that was a flaw,” Ramsey said.

But if U of L takes over the hospital’s ownership share, that would change.

“If that were the case, then the university would be in a position to ensure accountability that it has not been able to ensure in the past,” Ramsey said.

While U of L trustees weren’t on the Passport board, Passport’s chairman and CEO at the time was Larry Cook, who also serves as U of L’s executive vice president of health affairs. Cook reports to Ramsey.

The university benefited from its hospital’s ownership because the hospital received a $10 million dividend from Passport that was pumped back into the medical school and university.

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