Below is a copy of the letter LDH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein issued today to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu regarding the LSU Health Care Services Division's handling of its budget.
February 6, 2012
The Honorable Mitch Landrieu
Mayor of the City of New Orleans
1300 Perdido Street, Suite 2E04
New Orleans, LA 7011
Dear Mayor Landrieu:
I have received a copy of your letter related to LSU’s cuts to its hospital in New Orleans and the impact on the city’s mental health resources and I share your concerns.
I want to set the record straight on the budget for the LSU Health Care Sciences Division. LSU is not making these cuts in response to a midyear deficit. Unlike many other state agencies, LSU-HCSD continues to enjoy access to its full FY 2012 appropriation. In fact, the Division of Administration has already committed to providing an additional $13.2 million in self-generated funds on top of LSU’s budget in the current fiscal year. In addition, LDH has freed up another $8 million in their current year budget. LSU-HCSD finds itself in this position because they are on pace to overspend their budget and are now falsely blaming mid-year state budget reductions for their service cuts.
For too long, LSU has put off the necessary spending adjustments to bring its organization in line with its appropriated budget. We are now faced with a situation in which LSU has four months to implement a year’s worth of reductions. This approach is not reflective of the type of bold leadership our state so badly needs in these difficult times.
I share your concern about the lack of thoughtful planning on LSU’s part regarding the reductions themselves and their implementation. Like my own agency has done over the last several years, our hope is that LSU-HCSD work to find administrative savings and efficiencies through closure or consolidation of duplicative and less effective programs. The list of cuts released by LSU is irresponsible and shows a lack of consideration of the impact this has on communities. These may not be the most logical and least painful ways to reduce their budget. Until LDH leadership, members of the legislature and city leaders intervened; there was little apparent communication on LSU’s behalf to local providers and other community organizations about ways to mitigate the impact of these cuts on people.
When we first received word of these cuts, LDH engaged our own Office of Behavioral Health as well as the Metropolitan Human Services District to begin a conversation to explore all options. We are looking forward to working with stakeholders and your leadership team at our meeting tomorrow to continue that conversation and find a clear path to ensure continuity of services. Some of the solutions being explored that are underway include the following:
- LDH is exploring using the remaining funds in its medical detox contract with LSU to buy services from local private hospitals to provide indigent care. Several hospitals are being considered for this arrangement.
- Later this month, Metropolitan Human Services District (MHSD) will open a crisis stabilization unit on Tulane Avenue with seven beds averaging 3-5 day length of stay. This will provide services to people in crisis and avoid acute inpatient admission, as well as step down services for patients being discharged from inpatient care and emergency departments. The unit will serve over 300 individuals a year.
- MHSD will work to reduce its length of stay for their 40 transitional housing beds to 90 days, increasing services to 160 clients a year. Priority will be given to individuals being discharged from LSU’s acute unit.
- MHSD will utilize its mobile crisis unit in conjunction with the ACT/FACT teams and intensive case management programs to intervene early and avoid hospitalizations when possible.
I can assure you that we are committed to working closely with each community affected by these reductions to ensure a clear plan exists for transition of services and care. I remain hopeful that LSU steps forward with a responsible plan, but we will not allow their lack of planning and leadership to have an unnecessary adverse impact on the people we both serve.
Bruce D. Greenstein