It's unclear how the Kentucky attorney general's ruling that University Hospital is a public—not private—entity will affect a pending $620 million merger.
Ruling favors ACLU in Ky. records case
Attorney General Jack Conway's office ruled University Medical Center of Louisville, Ky., is not private, as hospital officials claimed while campaigning for the proposed merger. The filing came after American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky claimed UMC violated the state's open-records law after UMC denied them a records request in August. The eight-page decision agreeing with the ACLU's claim was released on Thursday.
The ruling points out that as a not-for-profit, the hospital couldn't share money with the University of Louisville, unless the two act “as one and the same.” The decision said UMC is controlled by the school, as it was created to “operate and maintain the hospital affiliated with the University of Louisville School of Medicine.”
The proposed merger still needs state approval. The deal involves the 329-bed University Hospital, Denver-based Catholic Health Initiative's 426-bed Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's Healthcare in Louisville, and St. Joseph Health System in Lexington. Conway has said the merger would come under close scrutiny as there remained questions to what would happened to any public property, as the state provided taxpayer support to University Hospital. Conway also remained concerned about the hospitals needing to follow Roman Catholic doctrine, which limits reproductive services.
UMC has the option to appeal the decision in circuit court, or simply hand over the records, said Allison Martin, spokeswoman for Conway's office. She would not comment on how the ruling would affect the merger. The Federal Trade Commission approved the deal last month.
University of Louisville Health Care spokesman David McArthur issued a brief statement on the matter: “UMC is disappointed that the attorney general reversed his office's own 2006 decision that found UMC not to be subject to the Open Records Act. We will be reviewing his decision with our attorneys and deciding within the next 30 days whether to appeal his decision.”
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