SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - As the nearly $650 million budget crisis looms on the horizon with a $28 billion operating budget still up-in-the-air, leaders from LSU Health Sciences Center addressed the concerns of nervous faculty members and citizens in a town hall forum Tuesday.
If the proposed House budget is approved by lawmakers, it could devastate the medical school, its programs and those relying on Medicaid or are uninsured.
"If the budget in hand were to move forward, LSU Health in Shreveport as you know it will no longer exist," said Lisa Babin, the Executive Director of Public Relations and Communication for LSU Health in Shreveport. "If you're interacting with a legislator, we're going to keep it simple: tell them don't even think about it, we can't take any more cuts."
If the proposed House bill is approved, it could slash LSU Health's operating budget by 55 percent, which equates to around $165 million.
"We're not crying wolf as I said in the legislature, we're really crying uncle," said Dr. G.E. Ghali, Chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center. "The reality is there are not sufficient funds currently available to meet the basic needs of our state's citizens."
Medical students and residents could be forced to finish their training out-of-state if the house budget is approved. Louisiana would be responsible for picking up the bill.
"This has been impacting our kids for the last years, we have to stop this yo-yo," said Ghali.
Dr. Steven Alexander, a professor at LSU Health, remains optimistic the necessary funding will be made available.
"We don't want to be thinking about a Humpty Dumpty crisis, but it's never been as dire as it is now," said Alexander. "I hope the legislators are keenly aware of the situation."
KSLA News 12 pressed LSU Health leaders on how the looming budget crisis could affect a potential partnership with Oschner Health Systems. Leaders told us if the funding is not available, a deal is likely off the table.
The Senate approved an amended version of the proposed budget, which means the bill now goes back to the house for deliberations.