Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hospital appeals attorney general's ruling

University Hospital of Louisville has filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Circuit Court to overturn an open records opinion of Attorney General Jack Conway that the hospital is a public agency under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

The attorney general's opinion issued Oct. 5 declared University Medical Center Inc., which runs the hospital, "was established and created and is controlled by the University of Louisville." The university has argued University Hospital is private and refused to hand over records requested by the ACLU of Kentucky and The Courier-Journal.

Conway's ruling could affect the proposed merger between the hospital, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare and Lexington-based St. Joseph Health System. If the court upholds the attorney general's opinion, the state will have a say in the merger. The ruling means the documents pertaining to the merger itself would have to be made public.

Because it deals with an open-records issue, Conway's opinion has the force of law unless overturned in court, which resulted in the hospital's lawsuit.

According to the Courier-Journal, University Hospital is Louisville's safety-net hospital for the poor. It received $61 million from the state and $7 million from the city for indigent care last year.

The lawsuit argues that the hospital is a private, nonprofit corporation because it is controlled by a board of directors, not the University of Louisville.

For more information, read the Courier-Journal's story. Read the Open Government Blog entry about Attorney General Conway's opinion here.

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