10:27am

Mon August 22, 2011
Business and the Economy

Lawmaker Has More Questions on Merger

The principals of three merging healthcare systems in Kentucky can expect more questions from state lawmakers.  Last week, representatives from University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives addressed the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare. They fielded questions about how reproductive and end-of-life services would be protected after the entities merge and Catholic care directives are enforced at University Hospital.

They said the U of L medical school will not merge and all services, such as vasectomies and tubal ligations will still be provided, though possibly at another facility. But committee co-chair Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, says the alternate facilities may work for procedures that can be scheduled beforehand, but not for emergencies.

“I don’t need my beliefs—and I’m Catholic—I don’t need my beliefs pushed on somebody else,” said Burch the day after the meeting in an interview with WFPL News. “I would refuse to do that. I’ll be darned if I want to go into a hospital and they say, ‘We can’t do this here we can’t do that here,’ because the Catholic Church is opposed to it,”  says committee co-chair Tom Burch of Louisville.

He says the best option would be to exempt University Hospital from Catholic rules. Burch plans to send a list of questions about the merger to the principals. Specifically, he wants to know the religious affiliation of the merged entity’s management boards.

“I think everybody has a right to know who these people are and what would move them in one director or another. Some peoples’ religion causes them to do a thing they might not want to do,” he says.

Burch’s request has drawn criticism, but he insists it isn’t over the line, since lawmakers routinely volunteer their religion.

He expects to call the principals back to Frankfort for another hearing early next year.