Governor Steve Beshear rejects hospital merger

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by Claudia Coffey

WHAS11.com

Posted on December 31, 2011 at 12:46 AM

Updated Saturday, Dec 31 at 1:02 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – A deal which would have united three Kentucky hospitals has been rejected by Governor Steve Beshear. He says in the end, the merger is not in the best interest of the commonwealth.

After months of debate, discussion and research, the effort to merge University Hospital, Jewish Hospital and St Mary's Healthcare and St Joseph's in Lexington was shot down by Governor Steve Beshear following a report and recommendation from Attorney General Jack Conway.

"After exhaustive discussions and research I have determined that this proposed transaction is not in the best interest of the Commonwealth and therefore should not move forward," says Governor Beshear.

Among the major concerns would be the fact that Denver, Colorado based Catholic Health Care Initiatives would have majority control of the hospitals. That raised a red flag for not only the governor but for opponents concerned that the hospitals would not be allowed, under catholic directives, to perform certain reproductive procedures and end-of-life care.

"We are very thankful the governor did not bow down to political pressure but I am sure he was getting a lot of political pressure to sign off on this merger," says Bev Glasscock, a merger opponent.

The hospitals released a joint statement Friday night indicating their disappointment and what they called “inaccuracies” in Conway's report.

Still others worry about what will become of the hospitals and their level of care since each faces their own financial challenges, especially Jewish Hospital.

"Jewish Hospital has more financial problems right at this time based on what I have read and heard. They are going to need to find other alternatives," says Jessica Loving, a Former U of L Board Chair.

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