Jewish Hospital losses continue as UofL’s acquisition deadline a month away

Jewish Hospital
Jewish Hospital serves many of the city’s uninsured and under-insured residents. | Photo by Tony Pacheco

Operating losses at Jewish Hospital and other assets CommonSpirit Health plans to sell are worsening as UoL’s deadline to acquire the facility is now just one month away.

CommonSpirit, the owner of KentuckyOne Health, which owns Jewish Hospital and other assets UofL wants to buy, said this week that third-quarter operating losses of its discontinued operations, which include Jewish Hospital, more than doubled from a year earlier.

Jewish Hospital, Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital and other discontinued operations lost $23 million in the quarter ended March 31 — nearly $2 million per week — compared to a loss of $11 million — less than $1 million per week — in the same quarter last year. Jewish and Sts. Mary & Elizabeth had posted operating losses of about $1.2 million per week in the six months ended Dec. 31.

The new CommonSpirit report combines operating results of Jewish and Sts. Mary & Elizabeth with parts of another business that Catholic Health Initiatives — which has since merged with Dignity Health to form CommonSpirit — sold in January, which means it’s unclear to what extent the operations in Louisville are contributing to the deteriorating results.

The discontinued operations saw third-quarter revenues fall by $61 million, or 18%, compared to a year earlier, while expenses fell by $45 million, or 13%.

For the nine months that ended March 31, the results look significantly better, as the discontinued operations posted an operating loss of $58 million, compared to a loss of $666 million for the period ended March 31, 2018.

However, the results from a year ago included a $319 million loss from the end of the joint operating agreement between KentuckyOne and UofL, as well as a $272 million impairment charge for Jewish and Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospitals.

The university had said in February that it wants to form a joint venture with a yet-to-be-determined partner “to jointly either acquire, own or lease, and operate” nine KentuckyOne facilities, including Frazier Rehab Institute, Our Lady of Peace and Jewish Hospital.

The medical facilities, especially Jewish, are critical to the university and serve as a staging area for many School of Medicine-related functions, including cardiology, organ transplantation and neurosurgery services. Prolonged discussions between KentuckyOne and prospective buyer BlueMountain Capital Management had raised doubts about the facility’s survival.

Local health care experts have said that the loss of Jewish Hospital would have far-reaching consequences for many parts of the Louisville community because the 462-bed downtown facility employs thousands of highly skilled and highly paid health care professionals and takes care of tens of thousands of patients, many of them on Medicare and Medicaid.

Both UofL and KentuckyOne told Insider Friday that they still hope to reach an agreement for the acquisition by June 30. —Boris Ladwig

Court upholds state law banning lobbyist gifts to legislators

Sen. John Schickel
Sen. John Schickel

A federal appeals court reversed a lower court ruling on Thursday that had struck down Kentucky’s ban on lobbyists giving gifts to state legislators, affirming the constitutionality of that ban.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ban in the Kentucky Code of Legislative Ethics does not violate individuals’ freedom of speech and was “enacted to prevent corruption and protect its citizens’ trust in their elected officials.”

“One of the most important purposes of the legislative ethics law is to forbid legislators from soliciting things of value or campaign contributions from lobbyists,” stated Judge Anthony Wilhoit, chairman of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, in a news release. “This decision is a clear win for the integrity of the legislative process, as emphatically recognized by the Court of Appeals.”

The ban on lobbyist gifts and contributions to legislators was first passed in 1993 following the Boptrot scandal in which nine state legislators were sent to jail for accepting bribes.

State Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, filed the lawsuit to challenge the ban on lobbyist gifts that was strengthened as recently as 2014, arguing that such a ban on gifts was a violation of individuals’ freedom of speech. —Joe Sonka

Youth unemployment worries

Chart of income composition
Screenshot | Courtesy of KentuckianaWorks

While the Louisville area’s unemployment rate remains low, at 3.5% in April, the region’s workforce development board is sounding the alarm about youth unemployment.

A new report shows that despite the low unemployment rate, nearly 12% of Louisvillians aged 16 to 24 are disconnected from the labor market, meaning not working or enrolled in school.

The share was highest for Louisvillians aged 20: 17.5%, meaning nearly one in five. And for those with a very low income, the share exceeded one in three.

“For many young people, the transition into adulthood has become a lengthier and more complicated process than it was in the past,” wrote the report’s authors, Sarah Ehresman, director of labor market intelligence, and Kathleen Bolter, deputy director of LMI at KentuckianaWorks.

Jobs for people without a high school education have all but disappeared, and the cost to obtain a college education has skyrocketed, while employers want applicants to have job experience even for entry-level jobs.

“These hurdles have made engaging with the workforce an increasingly difficult proposition even for the most prepared young people,” Ehresman and Bolter wrote.

While the share of disconnected youth has trended downward since the Great Recession, it remains above the national average and the rate in peer cities.

The authors also said that the downward trend likely was a result of local interventions on educational attainment; early exposure to quality, in-demand jobs and career path; and wrap-around support, and that the community must continue to fund those efforts if it hopes to further reduce the share of disconnected youth. —Boris Ladwig

In Brief

Norton Healthcare has been named among Becker Healthcare’s 150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare.

PharMerica has acquired a pharmacy business from Portland-based health insurance company Moda Health. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.