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Legislators question U of Louisville CEO about health system takeover

The University of Louisville's top executive faced harsh questioning Sept. 9 from Kentucky lawmakers over the school's plan to take over a financially struggling health system with help from the state, according to the Louisville Business Journal.

In August, university and state officials announced plans to buy Louisville-based Jewish Hospital and the affiliated KentuckyOne Health in a deal that included a $50 million loan from the state of Kentucky. 

University of Louisville's medical school uses Jewish Hospital to train medical students and conduct research. University officials have said they are worried that the school would lose its status as a medical research institution if Jewish Hospital closes. University officials also said the deal was initiated to protect patients from losing care and preventing the loss of hundreds of jobs, according to the Courier-Journal.

During the hearing, state Sen. Stephen Meredith questioned why the state should loan Jewish Hospital millions of dollars when it has failed to help other struggling rural hospitals in the state, including rural Pineville (Ky.) Community Hospital.

"Aren't we picking winners and losers when we participate in these kind of efforts? Why should we spend $50 million for Jewish, but we're not going to be doing anything for Pineville Community?" Mr. Meredith asked, according to local radio station WFPL.

Another state senator, Morgan McGavey, said he "remains unconvinced" that the deal means that U of Lousisville will have a quality teaching hospital.

University of Louisville Health CEO Tom Miller argued that lawmakers were more concerned about the $50 million loan and financing aspect of the deal than the patients the closure would affect. 

"Had Jewish Hospital closed down, there would have been patients who could not have gone to any other place —  35,000 ER visits, where are they going to go?" Mr. Miller said, according to WFPL. 

The deal is scheduled to close Nov. 1, even if the state doesn't approve the $50 million loan. 

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