Meg Farris / Medical Report

NEWORLEANS- Eyewitness News can confirm that Tulane Medical Center and Ochsner, two of the biggest players on the local health care market have been in negotiations recently over the future of Tulane Medical Center.

Whether it involves a merger or takeover is unclear at this time.

Tulane'sdowntown hospital is currently owned by Hospital Corporation ofAmerica or HCA, which is the majority owner.

For thethree or so years followingHurricane Katrina, it operated at a loss. When contacted, the hospital would not say what the current financial picture is.

Ochsner controls a huge portion of the local hospital market.And while neither side would speak on camera, or confirm or deny whether a deal is in the works, they do say they are each looking at other partnerships.

A statement issued by Tulane says 'in the age of health care reform and a changing marketplace, such discussions are common. Tulane said that its conversations with potential partners have been ongoing for years and are only at the fact-finding stage.

Ochsner said it 'won't comment on hypothetical business arrangements' but that it 'regularly evaluates partnerships and collaborations' as it looks at costs, patient health outcomes and the overall health care system.

The last time a change forTulane Medical Center was in the news waswhen SenatorDavid Vitter, State Treasurer JohnKennedy and House SpeakerJim Tucker proposed the state abandon plans for part of the new 424-bed teaching hospital (UMC) in favor of a deal withTulane Medical Center. This afternoonVitter's office said he has not been involved in the latestOchsner-Tulane discussions.

Our sources tell us potential outcomes could be anything fromTulane University buying the hospital withOchsner as a manager,orOchsner buying the hospital.

Complete Tulane University Statement:

Tulane University is in ongoing conversations with several health care providers about potential partnerships. In the age of health care reform and a changing marketplace, such discussions are common. The university has been engaged in such conversations with current and possible associates for several years. At this time these fact-finding dialogues are exploratory.

Should Tulane enter any new alliances with health care providers, details will be announced.

CompleteOchsner Statement:

In our effort to continually advance wellness and health,Ochsner regularly evaluates partnerships and collaborations in order to improve patient outcomes, enhance our employees' experiences, lower costs for patients, and provide better access to health care within our community.

Ochsner has tremendous respect for many of the outstanding health care organizations in the state of Louisiana, and we will continue to evaluate opportunities to maintain world-class health care for Louisiana.

Knowing this, it is the policy ofOchsner not to comment on hypothetical business arrangements. We have noted your interest in this subject and will reach out to you when there is something to share.

Complete Sen. Vitter Statement:

'Senator Vitter hasn't been involved in any such discussions; in fact, he doesn't know whether or not they're happening. He feels strongly, though, that building a world-class medical center here needs to leverage all of our top medical assets including Tulane Medical School and won't succeed if it's primarily focused on bricks and mortar,' said Luke Bolar, spokesman for Sen. David Vitter.

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