A U.S. District Court judge rejected the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it last October by Womans Hospital in Baton Rouge, which charged that private hospitals were being unfairly reimbursed at a lower rate for Medicaid patients.
A news release from the 229-bed hospital said that Louisianas Medicaid reimbursement rates are substantially below the Southern regional average.
The suit was filed last fall because we are no longer willing to burden private patients and employers with a cost that is the responsibility of the state of Louisiana, said Teri Fontenot, the hospitals president and chief executive officer, in the news release.
In an e-mailed statement, the health department said it did not generally comment on pending litigation, adding, Yesterdays ruling was a procedural decision in
which the judge dismissed several claims made by Womans Hospital
against the Department of Health and Hospitals while allowing some to proceed to the discovery phase. The judges decision was not a ruling on the merits of the claims made by Womans Hospital."
The motion was argued before Judge James Brady in Baton Rouge on May 27, and Brady allowed the case to go forward on seven of the nine counts listed in the complaint, according to the release. The case is not expected to go to trial until 2010.
Although the suit involves one hospital, John Matessino, president of the Louisiana Hospital Association, said the case could have far-reaching significance because its being contested in federal court. It certainly could have implications statewide, but it's being heard before a federal judge and if he makes a ruling, could it have implications for all reimbursement programs? Sure, Matessino said. I think this suit is a culmination of the frustration of some of our members of being paid less than it costs to deliver medical care. -- by Andis Robeznieks