Session will impact health care

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 27, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – The current legislative session is full of bills that would greatly affect Louisiana’s health care system – both positively and negatively, Vernon Stevens told the Ferriday Rotary Club Thursday.

&uot;The time the Legislature is in session is the most dangerous 90 days&uot; of the year for those in the health care industry, said Stevens, administrator of Riverland Medical Center and past president of the Louisiana Rural Health Association.

Some bills before the Legislature would have a positive effect on health care, Stevens said, most notably several bills that would allow cuts to be made from areas of the state’s budget that are now protected from cuts.

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&uot;When the state has a $300 million to $400 million deficit, it falls to … health care, education and law enforcement to bear the brunt of the cuts,&uot; Stevens said, referring to the three unprotected areas of the state’s budget.

House Bill 593 and Senate Bill 492 would stop the new hospital license issues.

Stevens also mentioned House Bill 708, which would allow people with disabilities, chronic ailments and life-threatening disorders to choose a specialist as their primary care physician.

But of the 198 health care-related bills introduced in the session that started March 26, Stevens was particularly alarmed about Senate bills 61 and 62, which would remove the $500,000 cap on medical malpractice claims.

&uot;That would have a devastating effect&uot; on Louisiana’s health care industry, Stevens said.