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Advocacy Groups and Individuals Rally Against Hospital Merger

Civic advocacy groups and individuals met Monday to discuss what actions they can take against the proposed hospital merger between University Medical Center, Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System and a division of Catholic Health Initiatives.The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression organized a discussion at City Hall around the controversial merger that has been criticized for lacking transparency.Around 30 individuals attended including councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh to support the opposition. Several addressed concerns that have been voiced for the past few months, like whether same-sex couples will continue receiving benefits through the new system.“These are all questions that are right now unanswered and I fear that when they are answered the answers will not be to the liking of a fairness for all individuals who currently are well served by the university hospital system,” said Louisville Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman.Hospital officials have said they're still determining how the benefits for staff may change after the merger and they’re prepared to begin consolidating facilities as early as next month if the governor approves the deal.But Kentucky Alliance co-chair K.A. Owens said there’s still no way to judge what changes will be made if a merger is approved.“I don’t see how anyone can say that it’s a good idea to merge when we haven’t even seen the details of the plan,” he said.Ideas for action from individuals attending Monday’s discussion included petitions and writing letters to local and state officials.Further details of the plan are expected to be unveiled soon. A circuit court judge ordered the release of certain documents previously kept private among merger officials. It’s unclear what those documents may include, but critics hope they’ll shed light on many unanswered questions raised over the past few months. Those questions largely center on the role the Catholic doctrine will play in hospital operations.