Lawmakers Advance Bill Funding U of L’s Jewish Hospital Purchase
Supporters of the University of Louisville’s purchase of the Jewish Hospital system have lowered their request for state funding from $50 million to $35 million.
In November U of L purchased the Louisville assets of Kentucky One Health, which includes Jewish Hospital, after securing a preliminary agreement for a partially-forgivable loan from former Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration.
Gov. Andy Beshear’s new administration is still supportive of the deal, but funding is dependent on the legislature setting aside money for it in this year’s budget writing session.
U of L President Neeli Bendapudi renewed her case to the state House budget committee on Tuesday.
“We have truly sharpened our pencils, looked at our need and we are now asking for $35 million in loan instead of the original $50 million,” Bendapudi said.
The committee approved a bill that would authorize the funds, which would come out of the state’s so-called rainy day fund, a savings account used for state funding emergencies. It can now be voted on by the full House.
Bendapudi said that the university had already realized cost savings from the purchase of the hospital system in the form of more favorable Medicaid reimbursements and management efficiencies.
The deal is backed by Republican House Speaker David Osborne, who said he was skeptical of the proposal at first.
“They created additional efficiencies, additional reimbursements that they would get,” Osborne said. “It became very apparent to me very quickly that it was something we had to do and it was something we had to do it quickly.”
Supporters argue that the Kentucky One hospital system would have failed without U of L’s purchase, costing 1,900 jobs and placing the university’s research status at risk.
Many U of L medical students do their residencies at the hospital system and the school houses its cardiology and transplant programs there.
But some worry that the plan places too much financial risk on the state. Andrew McNeil, executive director of Americans for Prosperity Kentucky, worried that the state will have to make further financial support to make the deal successful.
“Is $35 million just the first ask that will be made to ensure that this deal will be potentially successful going forward?” McNeil said.
Lawmakers are dealing with a tight budget this year, as economists predict that state revenue will not grow quickly enough to account for increased spending demands.