Doctors at a suburban New Orleans hospital on Monday filed suit against the state and the Louisiana Health and Hospitals Department seeking $100 million to reimburse them for caring for poor and uninsured patients in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The storm forced the closure of state-funded Charity Hospital in New Orleans, sending many indigent patients to look for care in area hospitals that reopened after the storm.
The 381 physicians at 362-bed West Jefferson Medical Center, Marrero, La., said in their lawsuit they had not received any money for their work. Before Katrina, the state spent $120 million statewide for the care of Louisianas poor. That money goes to the hospitals, however, not the doctors.
Without this funding, our healthcare system is at risk, putting our whole community at risk, said K. Barton Farris, medical director of the hospitals laboratory.
DHH spokesman Robert Johannessen said the state can reimburse hospitalsbut not private physiciansfor treating indigent patients. But the state, he added, helped secure $8 million in federal money for private physicians who provided care to the poor after Katrina.
"We have gone to bat for them in the past," Johannessen said. "We have been working to secure additional funding for the doctors." -- by the Associated Press