House Votes To Help OSUMC

Monday, February 23rd 2009, 11:47 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - Work continues to save OSU Medical Center.   Three months ago, the hospital was on the verge of shutting down.  On Monday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted unanimously to help fund the ailing hospital.

They passed a bill that would provide the first lump of cash to help keep the hospital and OSU's residency program alive.

The future of the OSU Medical Center has been at risk for years.  Because of that the OSU's medical residency program has also been at risk.  But now, a vote in the state House of Representatives, means a deal to revive the hospital is getting near.

"I think it certainly is a indication by the legislature that they recognize how important it is to continue to train doctors. We cannot lose that ability to train docs to go out and serve around the state," said Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge.

Speaker of the House Chris Benge says this vote will help ensure the future of health care in Oklahoma.

"In the future when we're also looking at potential shortages in health care workers that if we wouldn't have done this this would have been a major step backward," said Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge.

The plan will fund the OSU Medical Center for the next five years and will be matched by private donations during that same time frame.

The City of Tulsa will accept the donation of OSU Medical Center into a city trust.  The hospital's employees will become employees of the city trust.  Saint John will manage and operate the hospital.

The state will provide $25 million in funding.  That includes $20 million in previously dedicated money and $5 million from the general fund.  That $5 million will continue annually for the following four years.  The hospital will pay for the $25 million bond with tobacco tax revenues.

Ardent, the company which currently owns OSU Medical Center will return $3 million in unused funds to the trust.   Private partners, like the Kaiser Family Foundation, will provide funding for healthcare vouchers.

As part of the deal, 20,000 Tulsans will be enrolled in Insure Oklahoma to cut back on the number of uninsured patients who visit OSU Medical Center. 

The bill now moves to the Oklahoma Senate for consideration.