BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- The LSU governing board backed a plan Thursday to deepen cuts to $152 million for the university-run public hospitals that care for the poor and uninsured, eliminating dozens of inpatient beds, some clinic services and nearly 1,500 jobs.
The reductions will fall across seven south Louisiana hospitals, carving out 19 percent of the spending that had been planned for those facilities run through LSU's Health Care Services Division.
University officials say they hope services being eliminated at the public hospitals will be picked up by private health care facilities.
But few of those agreements are in place, so it's unclear where some uninsured patients will receive care when services disappear at the LSU centers in the coming weeks.
'We're in discussions trying to achieve the highest level of confidence we possibly can,' hospital system leader Frank Opelka said when asked if he was confident that people will have access to health care elsewhere.
Opelka, LSU's executive vice president for health care and medical education redesign, outlined the budget cuts, saying they were devised in close consultation with Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration. The LSU Board of Supervisors approved the plans without objection.
In Baton Rouge, intensive care unit beds will be shuttered. In New Orleans, a woman's health clinic and a mobile health care unit will close and surgery hours will shrink. An arthritis clinic in Lake Charles, the dermatology and neurology clinics in Houma, the ICU in Independence and the mental health clinic in Lafayette all will shut down.
Inpatient beds will shrink at every facility. At LSU's hospitals in Lake Charles, Lafayette and Tangipahoa Parish, inpatient beds will drop to 10 each.
The budget slashing is in response to the governor's decision to levy most of a federal Medicaid funding drop on the LSU health care system rather than on private providers.
Two New Orleans residents who said they rely on the public hospital system for care criticized the additional cuts, saying they will harm patient care and limit access for the poor and uninsured.
'Society is judged by how they treat their least-advantaged, and this board will be judged accordingly,' Janet Hayes told board members before they voted on the plans. Hayes said she recently lost her job and her health insurance.
The plans approved Thursday don't include the LSU-run hospitals in Shreveport, Monroe and Pineville, which operate under different leadership and participated in a previous round of reductions earlier this year tied to the Jindal administration cuts.