LSU reaches financial terms with hospital manager

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU has settled the major financial disagreements it had with the manager of the university-owned Shreveport and Monroe hospitals.

University system health care adviser Jerry Phillips said LSU and the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, known as BRF, have completed documents that govern the sharing of security, utilities and computer services.

"All the documents with money in them have been signed," Phillips said. "There's some minor points remaining, but the key elements have been met."

BRF runs the north Louisiana hospitals as the University Health System. Rodney Huebbers, CEO of the health system, said he hadn't received official notice that LSU has signed the agreements, but he said he was pleased the outstanding issues have been settled.

"Signing of these agreements means that the people of north Louisiana will continue to have access to the highest quality medical care in their Shreveport and Monroe hospitals under the leadership of the Biomedical Research Foundation in collaboration with LSU," Huebbers said in a statement Thursday.

The signing of nearly all outstanding paperwork involving the financial arrangements between LSU and hospital management appears to end talk that the university might consider filing a breach of contract lawsuit. It also could calm some concerns about new upheaval at the hospitals, which were privatized by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration a year ago.

The clash over the contractual arrangements became public last month when LSU sent the research foundation a collection letter demanding payment for $25 million in outstanding debts.

Within weeks, BRF paid the invoices. But the documents spelling out ancillary financial agreements tied to the privatization deal remained a sticking point. Money is tied to those contractual arrangements as well, including $14 million LSU said it was owed from last year.

With the latest developments, Phillips said only a few small issues were left to be negotiated by attorneys for the two sides.

"It's not anything of any consequence. It's down to office space allotment and that type of thing. It's minor discussions," he said.

The research foundation took control of the two LSU-owned hospitals in October 2013, as part of Jindal's push to privatize most of the university-run public hospital system.

Privatization deals, completed through no-bid contracts, have taken effect for nine university hospitals and their clinics. Most of the contracts had the management company of a nearby hospital taking over operations of the LSU facilities. Three contracts closed an LSU hospital and shifted its services to private facilities.

The biomedical research foundation had never previously run a patient care facility when it took control of the Shreveport and Monroe hospitals.

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