LSU Health: special session budget battle over, still concerns over funding

LSU Health: special session budget battle over, still concerns over funding
LSU Health in Shreveport

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Louisiana lawmakers are still trying to hash out this year's budget deficit, but they can't help but look ahead at next year's $750 million shortfall.

LSU Health in Shreveport is looking at cuts again next year, but the battle is just beginning.

"I wanted to come back here, I wanted to be near my family, I wanted to be in a community that I felt an attachment to," said Katie Vanchiere.

23-year-old Katie Vanchiere is a first year med student. She chose to come to LSU Health Shreveport to not only get the best education she could, but also to be close to home.
    
Throughout her studies, the first-year med students' class president has also been following the budget crisis closely.

"I am concerned, because I don't want to end up here for residency and come to find out we have these problems every year and it just gets worse and worse," said Vanchiere.

This current fiscal year, LSU Health had to reduce its budget by about 2 percent, and the fight for next fiscal year's budget has already started.

LSU Health Shreveport says the battle during the special session is over, but the concerns over the budget are not.

"They [our students] wonder about the future programs, our faculty listen to it, so I wouldn't say we came out unscathed from the special session, and I would say that we've got to be aware for the future fight for next year's fiscal budget," said Mimi Hedgcock, the Executive Director of Governmental Affairs LSU Health Shreveport.

The Governor has already outlined a $408 million reduction to the Department of Health and Hospital's 2017 budget. In that proposal, LSUS Health is projected to lose another 3 percent in its budget. But that could easily change by the end of the session.

"We are still very much in jeopardy and we need to be aware of that. Again the Health Science Center, the school of medicine, we're in jeopardy on the health care side and the higher education side, and those tend to be on the chopping block quite often," said Hedgcock.

Vanchiere is considering the possibility of leaving Louisiana after she is done with LSU Health.

"It's not ruling out Louisiana as a future place, but it definitely keeps me open-minded to other options and really being aware of the situation," said Vanchiere.

LSU Health recently had its budget cut in both November and February.

Administrators encourage writing to lawmakers to show support of the medical school.

The Department of Health and Hospitals released this statement from Dr. Rebekah Gee, DHH Secretary, in regards to the Governor's outline for the 2017 fiscal year budget:

These are not cuts that we are proposing. Instead, they are in response to the $408 million reduction to DHH's 2017 budget.

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