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Beshear Says Commonwealth Won't Approve Merger Until Concerns Are Addressed

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has weighed in on the pending merger between University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and a division of Catholic Health Initiatives. Under the merger, U of L Hospital will not be able to provide abortion, stem cell research, vasectomies, treatments for infertility, emergency contraception for rape victims and birth control counseling.In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Governor Beshear said the Commonwealth has two roles in the review of the proposed merger: "[T]o review the legal issues associated with the merger and, just as importantly, to review the public policy of how the University of Louisville Hospital will continue to honor its mission as a public teaching hospital that provides access and care to citizens, especially those who are indigent."The statement continues:The Commonwealth must approve changes to the existing leases of public land and facilities as well as any changes to the agreements that provide for the operation of the hospital. Before those approvals will be given, additional discussion and transparency will be needed to provide full disclosure on how the public mission of University Hospital will be honored.

Each time I have spoken with University of Louisville representatives associated with this hospital merger, I have been repeatedly assured that University Hospital’s public mission would continue in every aspect of care. However, it is clear there are growing concerns within the community about issues related to the hospital’s future level of access to medical services, and those concerns need to be fully vetted before the Commonwealth takes the legal steps required to approve this merger.

In order to address the continuing questions related to health care access and availability, my administration will hold a series of conversations with the principals in the proposed merger and other interested parties. The first step in this process will be a meeting with Mayor Greg Fischer, Auditor Crit Luallen, Attorney General Jack Conway, representatives of my administration including Cabinet Secretary Mary Lassiter, Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller, Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes and Finance Secretary Lori Flanery, and the principals involved in the hospital merger to discuss how University Hospital’s public mission will continue to be met. I will also seek additional input from the community and other interested parties to ensure that we have fully reviewed the many questions that must be answered before the proposed merger can move forward.

This process will be deliberate and thoughtful, and we will take whatever time is necessary to resolve these issues.

Mayor Greg Fischer has also expressed concern about the deal, and Attorney General Jack Conway says he'll be looking into the merger.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.