Thursday, November 22, 2012

Judge rules U of L's hospital is public and subject to Open Records Act; it may appeal

The University of Louisville's hospital is a public entity, a Jefferson Circuit Court judge has ruled in a lawsuit filed to get access to the university's deals with other health providers.

Judge Martin McDonald ruled yesterday in favor of The Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV and the American Civil Liberties Union, noting that the university makes or approves all appointments to the hospital's board of directors. The university had argued that the board, and thus the hospital, was not a public agency under the state Open Records Act.

The hospital said it might appeal the ruling. McDonald gave it 30 days to give him the records being sought, along with arguments about why they should be exempt" under exceptions to the law, reports The C-J's Andrew Wolfson. "He gave the news organizations at the ACLU 20 days to respond to any claimed exemptions." The hospital has said revealing contracts would put it at a competitive disadvantage.

The suit began after the university refused to let the plaintiffs see records related to its proposed merger with Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare and Lexington-based St. Joseph Health Care System. Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed the merger on grounds that a public hospital should not be bound by a religious organization's health-care policies. This month the hospital announced a new deal with KentuckyOne Health, which includes the Catholic system, but said reproductive services would not be affected. (Read more)

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