UMC a "Done Deal"? Not After Today

Today, a resolution that requires the full Lousiana legislature to approve the business and plan and financing for the proposed UMC passed the House Appropriations Committee on a 12-11 vote.

Whew.  Score one for public oversight and accountability.  Given the lack of a business plan, the lack of over $400 million in financing, and the lack of a clear site, the UMC project is definitely in need of additional oversight.  And the legislature needs to exercise a higher degree of control over this project right now as laid out in House Concurrent Resolution 59 because better alternatives exist and they need to be fully explored.  Taxpayers shouldn't simply be stuck with a boondoggle because inertia demands it.

The measure now heads to the full House itself, as far as we can tell.  Tell your State Representatives to support this resolution!  It's crucial to ensuring that the UMC project is done right.

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Here's another interesting development from today: the trio of Senator David Vitter, Treasurer John Kennedy, and House Speaker Jim Tucker met with Governor Bobby Jindal, Secretary Greenstein, UMC Chair Bobby Yarborough, UMC board members, and Mayor Landrieu to discuss the UMC alternative proposed by the trio last week.

According to the Vitter press release that went out this afternoon, "“The discussion today in the governor’s office and the concrete outcome it led to were extremely productive. The governor is writing the full University Medical Center board and asking them to look at all options and possibilities – including other existing assets, partners and potential partners, ways to independently and efficiently manage the new facility, etc. – with the help of appropriate experts like Kaufman Hall. This is meant to empower the board to do its job independently and not rubber-stamp any LSU plan."

Interesting.  Take a look at that language: "look at all options and possibilities - including other existing assets"...so, reading the tea leaves, does that mean that the powers that be are considering the existing Charity Hospital building, which the state owns, and the multiple attendant buildings in its complex?  And the former VA Hospital building and its complex?  If not, it should.

Contact any person listed above and tell them: "REBUILD INSIDE CHARITY HOSPITAL!"

Here's why:

- It's less expensive than building new in the UMC Footprint; a retrofit for a modern facility in the existing limestone shell could be accomplished with the money the state already has onhand.

- It would take less time than continuing the death march through lawsuits, expropriations, and demolitions in the UMC Footprint.  If this was really about getting healthcare back online in New Orleans, we would have retrofitted Charity starting several years ago...and the full new hospital would have been back online for several years by now.

- The Kennedy-Tucker-Vitter alternate UMC proposal incorporates a 250-bed rebuild of a health facility inside of the existing Charity building as a priority.

The situation surrounding the UMC is as fluid as ever.  Help influence the outcome in a positive manner.  Start contacting state, city, and federal officials today to keep them on the right track.