New Court Ruling Could Make Expungement Unaffordable For Some Kentuckians Friday, Oct 25 2019 

People who can’t afford to pay expungement fees might be prevented from clearing their criminal record under a recent Kentucky court ruling.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals earlier this month upheld a Jefferson Circuit Court ruling in which a Louisville man who qualified as indigent was denied a waiver for the fee required to expunge a felony charge from his criminal record.

Attorneys, legislators, and expungement advocates worry the ruling will stifle access to expungements and undercut years of criminal justice reform efforts to return basic rights to thousands of people whose convictions have long passed.

“It is an injustice,” said Sadiqa N. Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League.

New legislation this year made expungement accessible to more Kentuckians. Legislators this year also expanded the scope of the state’s expungement law, making dozens of Class D felonies expungeable. But they stopped short of allowing expungements for convictions of certain drug trafficking crimes, DUI, assault, or a sex offense. 

The cost to expunge a felony is now nearly $300 — reduced by lawmakers from $500. Misdemeanors cost $100 per offense.

These efforts ignited a groundswell of support networks aimed at helping people clean their criminal records — philanthropists have pledged money and nonprofits are hosting clinics to guide people through the process.

In December 2018, Jefferson Circuit Judge Audra Eckerle denied Frederick Jones’s request to waive the then-$500 fee to expunge a felony theft charge he served prison time for in 1998. Jones declined to be interviewed.

Eckerle said that Jones, who reported earning less than $950 a month, qualifies for such a waiver. But she disagreed that the fees related to expungement are waivable. Eckerle said expungement is optional and the costs are not unwillingly imposed on someone.

Moreover, legislators who wrote the law did not specifically say the fee could be waived, Eckerle wrote in her opinion.

For this, she said Jones had to pay up if he wanted to rid the conviction from his record.

“Indeed, [Jones] has already had 20 years to amass the $500 fee,” she wrote. 

The Kentucky Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with Eckerle. 

The ruling comes at a time in Louisville when expungements are in high demand.

And more than 400 people are signed up to attend an expungement clinic run by the Louisville Urban League on Saturday at Roosevelt-Perry Elementary School. Reynolds, a leading advocate for expungement, said the ruling amounts to socio-economic discrimination.

“We want people to be able to re-enter society,” she said in an interview this week. “We want them to be able to engage with society.”

And it’s not uncommon for low-income residents to be granted waivers for expungement-related fees, according to attorneys who assist residents in clearing their criminal records.

Since 2018, the Legal Aid Society in Louisville has assisted more than 1,000 people seeking expungements, according to Stewart Pope, the advocacy director the the Legal Aid Society in Louisville. About 90 percent of those people were granted a fee waiver by a judge, he said.

For many, Pope said the fees are just too much. And without the waiver, they simply wouldn’t be able to get the expungement. 

“There literally is no extra money,” he said. “The point of expungement is to get rid of these charges so that somebody can get a better job and hopefully get out of poverty.”

A Right Or A Privilege?

Felony disenfranchisement is pervasive in Kentucky: More than 312,000 Kentuckians are prevented from voting due to past felony convictions, according to a report published earlier this year by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky.

Past convictions can keep people from getting good jobs and they block thousands from exercising basic constitutional rights, like voting or owning a gun. Kentucky and Iowa are the only states to permanently ban felons from voting. More than 1 in 4 African Americans in Kentucky are disenfranchised, the highest rate in the nation.

Clearing a record of a felony allows people to experience life in a way they cannot when they’re burdened by ever-present stain of past convictions, Pope said — they can vote, they can attend field trips with their children, they can seek out jobs without being forced to disclose their past transgressions.

But mandating fees could prove to be a barrier for some. 

Kentucky law allows judges to grant waivers for residents who can prove they lack the resources needed to foot the bills associated with appealing, filing, or defending “any action” in court. 

But in the opinion issued Oct. 11, the Court of Appeals judges ruled that expungement is different because it’s not a right, but a privilege.

“A privilege the General Assembly has no obligation to provide at all, and which it may therefore provide subject to conditions that our courts are not at liberty to ignore,” wrote Judge Joy A. Kramer in the opinion issued earlier this month.

The judges likened an expungement to a bankruptcy, in that there is no constitutional right to access a bankruptcy. Instead, the opinion said, it’s a matter of “legislative grace.” 

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a one-paragraph brief in the appeal, according to the Court of Appeals opinion, which ”stated in essence that he did not have a dog in this fight.”

Asked to explain his position on the case and if he supports fee waivers for expungements, Beshear’s spokesperson Crystal Staley said in a statement that the statute passed by the legislature mandated a fee for all expungements. 

“The Court of Appeals enforced the statute as written,” Staley said. “Attorney General Beshear believes that through criminal justice reforms to state law, expungements should be affordable for non-violent convictions that may currently be expunged under the law.” 

Beshear is the Democratic candidate for governor opposing Gov. Matt Bevin, who signed into law this year the expansion to expungement rights. Bevin’s spokesperson did not reply to a request for comment on the case.

Reynolds of the Louisville Urban League said support for expungement crosses party lines. One reason for that, she said, is because when people can clear their criminal record they can open themselves up for better job prospects. And hampering people’s ability to do that, she said, would be akin to the state “shooting itself in the foot.”

She’s hopeful the legislature or the Kentucky Supreme Court will clear up the confusion.

“I don’t care which body deals with it, it just needs to be dealt with,” she said.

Review Likely

The state’s highest court will have the chance to hear the case, said Cassie Chambers Armstrong, an attorney with Kaplan Johnson Abate and Bird who represented Jones on his appeal. (Armstrong’s firm has represented KyCIR in recent litigation.) 

“We’re talking about a law that affects so many Kentuckians in such a fundamental way, we’re talking about things like jobs and housing, and public benefits and the right to vote,” she said in an interview this week.

Armstrong said she intends to ask the Kentucky Supreme Court to review the case.

Karen Faulkner, a criminal defense attorney in Louisville, has guided hundreds of clients through the expungement process, and said many are granted waivers from associated fees. 

She worries that the Court of Appeals ruling will create a class-divide in expungement access — and the poor will be on the losing side.

“What we are looking at with this ruling is a circumstance where those people who have money are able to get expungements and those who are poor are not,” Faulkner said. “And I hope that the Supreme Court looks at the constitutional due process issues and overturns the opinion.”

Legislators who sponsored the recent expungement bill said this debate is an unintended consequence of their legislation. 

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, a Republican from Lebanon, sponsored the bill in the most recent General Assembly that widened the scope of felonies considered expungeable, and reduced the filing fee to $250 from $500. Higdon said he always assumed judges would waive the fee for those who can’t afford to pay it.

But Judge Kramer, writing for the Court of Appeals, said “legislative intent is expressed by omission as well as by inclusion.” Higdon’s bill described the fee as mandatory and failed to state fees could be waived, the court ruled.

Higdon said if the Court of Appeals ruling stands, he’s certain legislators will work to “correct what was misinterpreted in my legislation.”

“It’s common practice in Kentucky that if a defendant cannot pay a fee, a judge has a discretion to waive it,” he said. “If I wanted to block them from getting a fee waived, I would have put wording in there to block it.”

Rep. Ed Massey, a Republican from Hebron, sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives. In an interview this week, he said fees should not inhibit anyone from getting an expungement and the legislature must be clearer regarding waivers for expungements.

“The courts should absolutely be able to grant a waiver,” he said. “Nothing would prevent us from revisiting the expungement bill and considering that as a legislative action.”

Contact Jacob Ryan at (502) 814.6559 or jryan@kycir.org.

The post New Court Ruling Could Make Expungement Unaffordable For Some Kentuckians appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

New Court Ruling Could Make Expungement Unaffordable For Some Kentuckians Friday, Oct 25 2019 

People who can’t afford to pay expungement fees might be prevented from clearing their criminal record under a recent Kentucky court ruling.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals earlier this month upheld a Jefferson Circuit Court ruling in which a Louisville man who qualified as indigent was denied a waiver for the fee required to expunge a felony charge from his criminal record.

Attorneys, legislators, and expungement advocates worry the ruling will stifle access to expungements and undercut years of criminal justice reform efforts to return basic rights to thousands of people whose convictions have long passed.

“It is an injustice,” said Sadiqa N. Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League.

New legislation this year made expungement accessible to more Kentuckians. Legislators this year also expanded the scope of the state’s expungement law, making dozens of Class D felonies expungeable. But they stopped short of allowing expungements for convictions of certain drug trafficking crimes, DUI, assault, or a sex offense. 

The cost to expunge a felony is now nearly $300 — reduced by lawmakers from $500. Misdemeanors cost $100 per offense.

These efforts ignited a groundswell of support networks aimed at helping people clean their criminal records — philanthropists have pledged money and nonprofits are hosting clinics to guide people through the process.

In Louisville, expungements are in high demand.

And more than 400 people are signed up to attend an expungement clinic run by the Louisville Urban League on Saturday at Roosevelt-Perry Elementary School. Reynolds, a leading advocate for expungement, said the ruling amounts to socio-economic discrimination.

“We want people to be able to re-enter society,” she said in an interview this week. “We want them to be able to engage with society.”

And it’s not uncommon for low-income residents to be granted waivers for expungement-related fees, according to attorneys who assist residents in clearing their criminal records.

Since 2018, the Legal Aid Society in Louisville has assisted more than 1,000 people seeking expungements, according to Stewart Pope, the advocacy director the the Legal Aid Society in Louisville. About 90 percent of those people were granted a fee waiver by a judge, he said.

For many, Pope said the fees are just too much. And without the waiver, they simply wouldn’t be able to get the expungement. 

“There literally is no extra money,” he said. “The point of expungement is to get rid of these charges so that somebody can get a better job and hopefully get out of poverty.”

A Right Or A Privilege?

Felony disenfranchisement is pervasive in Kentucky: More than 312,000 Kentuckians are prevented from voting due to past felony convictions, according to a report published earlier this year by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky.

Past convictions can keep people from getting good jobs and they block thousands from exercising basic constitutional rights, like voting or owning a gun. Kentucky and Iowa are the only states to permanently ban felons from voting. More than 1 in 4 African Americans in Kentucky are disenfranchised, the highest rate in the nation.

Clearing a record of a felony allows people to experience life in a way they cannot when they’re burdened by ever-present stain of past convictions, Pope said — they can vote, they can attend field trips with their children, they can seek out jobs without being forced to disclose their past transgressions.

But mandating fees could prove to be a barrier for some. 

In December 2018, Jefferson Circuit Judge Audra Eckerle denied Frederick Jones’s request to waive the then-$500 fee to expunge a felony theft charge he served prison time for in 1998. Jones declined to be interviewed.

Eckerle said that Jones, who reported earning less than $950 a month, qualifies for such a waiver. But she disagreed that the fees related to expungement are waivable. Eckerle said expungement is optional and the costs are not unwillingly imposed on someone.

Moreover, legislators who wrote the law did not specifically say the fee could be waived, Eckerle wrote in her opinion.

For this, she said Jones had to pay up if he wanted to rid the conviction from his record.

“Indeed, [Jones] has already had 20 years to amass the $500 fee,” she wrote. 

The Kentucky Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with Eckerle. 

Kentucky law allows judges to grant waivers for residents who can prove they lack the resources needed to foot the bills associated with appealing, filing, or defending “any action” in court. 

But in an opinion issued Oct. 11, the Court of Appeals judges ruled that expungement is different because it’s not a right, but a privilege.

“A privilege the General Assembly has no obligation to provide at all, and which it may therefore provide subject to conditions that our courts are not at liberty to ignore,” wrote Judge Joy A. Kramer in the opinion issued earlier this month.

The judges likened an expungement to a bankruptcy, in that there is no constitutional right to access a bankruptcy. Instead, the opinion said, it’s a matter of “legislative grace.” 

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a one-paragraph brief in the appeal, according to the Court of Appeals opinion, which ”stated in essence that he did not have a dog in this fight.”

Asked to explain his position on the case and if he supports fee waivers for expungements, Beshear’s spokesperson Crystal Staley said in a statement that the statute passed by the legislature mandated a fee for all expungements. 

“The Court of Appeals enforced the statute as written,” Staley said. “Attorney General Beshear believes that through criminal justice reforms to state law, expungements should be affordable for non-violent convictions that may currently be expunged under the law.” 

Beshear is the Democratic candidate for governor opposing Gov. Matt Bevin, who signed into law this year the expansion to expungement rights. Bevin’s spokesperson did not reply to a request for comment on the case.

Reynolds of the Louisville Urban League said support for expungement crosses party lines. One reason for that, she said, is because when people can clear their criminal record they can open themselves up for better job prospects. And hampering people’s ability to do that, she said, would be akin to the state “shooting itself in the foot.”

She’s hopeful the legislature or the Kentucky Supreme Court will clear up the confusion.

“I don’t care which body deals with it, it just needs to be dealt with,” she said.

Review Likely

The state’s highest court will have the chance to hear the case, said Cassie Chambers Armstrong, an attorney with Kaplan Johnson Abate and Bird who represented Jones on his appeal. (Armstrong’s firm has represented KyCIR in recent litigation.) 

“We’re talking about a law that affects so many Kentuckians in such a fundamental way, we’re talking about things like jobs and housing, and public benefits and the right to vote,” she said in an interview this week.

Armstrong said she intends to ask the Kentucky Supreme Court to review the case.

Karen Faulkner, a criminal defense attorney in Louisville, has guided hundreds of clients through the expungement process, and said many are granted waivers from associated fees. 

She worries that the Court of Appeals ruling will create a class-divide in expungement access — and the poor will be on the losing side.

“What we are looking at with this ruling is a circumstance where those people who have money are able to get expungements and those who are poor are not,” Faulkner said. “And I hope that the Supreme Court looks at the constitutional due process issues and overturns the opinion.”

Legislators who sponsored the recent expungement bill said this debate is an unintended consequence of their legislation. 

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, a Republican from Lebanon, sponsored the bill in the most recent General Assembly that widened the scope of felonies considered expungeable, and reduced the filing fee to $250 from $500. Higdon said he always assumed judges would waive the fee for those who can’t afford to pay it.

But Judge Kramer, writing for the Court of Appeals, said “legislative intent is expressed by omission as well as by inclusion.” Higdon’s bill described the fee as mandatory and failed to state fees could be waived, the court ruled.

Higdon said if the Court of Appeals ruling stands, he’s certain legislators will work to “correct what was misinterpreted in my legislation.”

“It’s common practice in Kentucky that if a defendant cannot pay a fee, a judge has a discretion to waive it,” he said. “If I wanted to block them from getting a fee waived, I would have put wording in there to block it.”

Rep. Ed Massey, a Republican from Hebron, sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives. In an interview this week, he said fees should not inhibit anyone from getting an expungement and the legislature must be clearer regarding waivers for expungements.

“The courts should absolutely be able to grant a waiver,” he said. “Nothing would prevent us from revisiting the expungement bill and considering that as a legislative action.”

This Week In Conversation: Attorney General Andy Beshear Tuesday, Oct 22 2019 

Attorney General Andy Beshear is the Democratic nominee in the race for  Kentucky governor, and a recent poll shows he is in a dead heat for the spot with Republican Governor Matt Bevin. This week, WFPL’s In Conversation talks with Beshear about his platform and Kentucky politics.

The Mason-Dixon poll, which has a “B+” rating from FiveThirtyEight pollster ratings, found that 46 percent of likely voters plan to vote for Bevin. Another 46 percent plan to vote for Beshear and 7 percent are undecided, but the poll also found that Bevin increased support within his party since the previous poll in December 2018. The governor also has more crossover appeal than Beshear with members of the other party, according to the poll. 

But some political observers say Governor Bevin’s divisive statements regarding teachers could be a deciding factor in the race, as Beshear has lobbied for their support and waged court battles with the Bevin administration over teacher retirement benefits and other issues.

We’ll talk with Beshear about education, health care, gun laws and more ahead of Election Day, Nov. 5. 

Note: WFPL also reached out to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin to invite him to share his positions on In Conversation. A campaign spokesman said it would be impossible with Bevin’s schedule.

Listen to In Conversation live on 89.3 WFPL Friday at 11 a.m. or follow along with our live tweets at @WFPLnews. Call with your questions or comments at 502-814-TALK or tweet us with the hashtag #WFPLconversation. We’re also on Facebook.

The VA Fired A Doctor For ‘Egregious’ Misconduct. The Bevin Administration Hired Him. Wednesday, Sep 25 2019 

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration hired a physician to lead the state’s infectious disease office just months after the Department of Veterans Affairs dismissed that doctor for “egregious” medical misconduct.

Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services hired Dr. John “Mel” Bennett in the same month that the VA’s Inspector General published a report highly critical of Bennett’s actions. 

The VA’s IG report found that between Oct. 1, 2015, and Dec. 27, 2017, Bennett repeatedly entered the same blood pressure reading of 128/78 in order to bypass a clinical alert system. The alert required the doctor to enter additional information that involved follow-up work with the patients, such as blood tests and changes in medication. The inaccurate blood pressure records, according to the report, were “most likely an effort to reduce workload.” 

The IG found that Bennett falsified blood pressure readings in 99.5 percent of 1,370 cases involving patients at highest risk for developing health problems due to hypertension. 

When confronted at the time, Bennett acknowledged the seriousness of the situation. 

According to a document obtained from an open records request to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, Bennett told Dr. Mark Swisher, the VA Chief of Primary Care, that he thought he could be fired, lose his medical license, or go to prison. 

VA consultant Dr. Thomas Wong discussed the incident in a podcast produced by the IG’s office. Wong said that several patients had adverse health outcomes because of the inaccurate information in their medical charts. One patient suffered an acute cardiac event.  

“Patients trust that ethical practice occurs throughout the patient-provider relationship. If this trust is broken, that relationship is eroded and is potentially irreversible,” he said. 

Documents show Bennett recorded inaccurate information into patient charts 50 times in 10 days between Dec. 11 and Dec. 21, 2017. 

The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure later issued an Agreed Order outlining Bennett’s conduct and sanctions. In that document, Lexington, Kentucky, VA Medical Center Director Emma Metcalf was blunt in her assessment of Bennett’s behavior. 

Bennett’s offenses, she wrote, are “egregious, directly related to your duties, intentional and frequently repeated. 

“You have lost the confidence of your colleagues regarding your reliability, accuracy, and integrity,” she wrote. “You have violated your patients’ and colleagues’ trust as well as failed to meet the standards entrusted to us as physicians. Your actions have placed Veterans in harm’s way and violate the established principles governing the practice of medicine.”

Hired By Kentucky

The VA suspended Bennett’s privileges – meaning he was barred from treating patients – on Dec. 26, 2017, when the investigation began. The VA fired him on July 6, 2018, and the VA’s  Metcalf sent a letter to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure two weeks later explaining the VA decision. 

In the letter, obtained through an open records request, Metcalf wrote “there is substantial evidence that John Bennett, MD so significantly failed to meet generally-accepted standards of clinical practice so as to raise reasonable concern for the safety of patients.”

KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Dr. John “Mel” Bennett in an interview during his tenure at the KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Despite this available information, Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services hired Bennett in September, 2018, to lead the state’s infectious disease branch at a salary of $127,000.

The infectious disease office helps combat and prevent contagious diseases such as hepatitis A and HIV. When Bennett was hired Kentucky was in the midst of multiple infectious disease challenges. 

A spokesperson for the Health and Family Services Cabinet declined a request for an interview.

Instead, spokesperson Christina Dettman wrote in an email that “Dr. Bennett has a Master’s in Public Health, an M.D., as well as time serving on a Board of Public Health, making him fully qualified to be hired for the position.”

Dettman also wrote that the VA published its report after Bennett was hired and that “the findings did not identify Dr. Bennett as the physician under investigation.”

Howard1aKY Public Health Dept.

 Jeffrey Howard was Kentucky’s public health commissioner.

However, the VA’s July letter to the state licensure board identifying Bennett would have been available for Dr. Jeffrey Howard, who was commissioner when when Bennett was hired.  As public health commissioner Howard was also on the licensure board. 

Howard is currently a White House Fellow working in Washington, D.C.. Reached by telephone, he declined to comment for this story.  

Bennett remained in charge of the infectious disease office for six months until his removal in April. His tenure covered an especially critical period for public health in Kentucky. The state faced the country’s worst ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4,900 Kentuckians have been diagnosed with hep A, half of those have been hospitalized, and 61 people have died. The state’s efforts in combating the disease have been criticized by Bennett’s predecessor, Dr. Robert Brawley, as being too slow and underfunded. 

Bennett’s Response

Bennett’s resume shows a long history of work as a family physician, going back to his early days as a member of the U. S. Army Medical Corps from 1989-1994.

According to the resume included in his state application, Bennett is a certified fellow in the American Academy Of Family Physicians. That resume also states Bennett was still employed by the VA at the time he applied for the state position, even though he had been fired in July.

Bennett said in an interview  that he was unaware of entering the same blood pressure over and over but also that it was a treatment strategy. 

“I thought I had an ability to, to sub categorize my patients into a group that I can work with at a later date. It was wrong,” he said.

Bennett gave a similar explanation to both the VA and the licensure board. Both rejected his arguments. 

In June, the state licensure board placed Bennett’s license on probation for five years. The board also ordered Bennett to complete mandated training and pay a $5,000 fine. 

Bevin Wants Judge Removed From ‘Sickout’ Case Over Facebook ‘Like’ Wednesday, Aug 28 2019 

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is trying to disqualify the judge presiding over a lawsuit against the state’s investigation into protesting teachers, arguing that a Facebook “like” shows bias.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd is presiding over Attorney General Andy Beshear’s lawsuit against Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson, who subpoenaed 10 school districts for information about teachers who used sick days to protest in Frankfort during this year’s legislative session.

Steve Pitt, Bevin’s general counsel, argued in a court motion filed Monday that Shepherd violated the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct by “liking” a Facebook post that is supportive of Beshear, who is running for governor against Bevin this year.

“In the thick of an election, this Court recently took to social media to publicly support Plaintiff Attorney General Andy Beshear’s campaign against Governor Matt Bevin,” Pitt wrote.

“That alone runs afoul of Kentucky’s Code of Judicial Conduct and raises significant questions about the Court’s impartiality in cases involving Governor Bevin’s administration.”

Shepherd “liked” a post by Democratic state Rep. Chris Harris praising volunteers on Beshear’s campaign.

“The Beshear/Coleman Campaign has some great local talent getting the word out for them. Honored to sign a pledge card to vote for the Beshear/Coleman ticket in November,” Harris wrote.

Bevin has lashed out at Shepherd several times in recent years amid a series of legal challenges brought on by Beshear, calling him an “incompetent hack” and accusing him of being a Democratic operative.

Bevin has also scrutinized Shepherd’s Facebook page before. Last year he made a video criticizing Shepherd for indicating he was “interested” in a protest against the pension bill Bevin signed into law.

Beshear called the Bevin administration’s motion to remove Shepherd “yet another absurd attack by an out-of-control governor.”

“Matt Bevin and his labor secretary have recently announced their ‘findings’ that over 1,000 Kentucky teachers broke the law. Now Bevin is trying to prevent the courts from giving those same teachers due process. Matt Bevin needs to stop attacking teachers, judges and his own lieutenant governor,” Beshear wrote in a statement.

Earlier this month, Bevin’s administration said that 1,074 teachers broke the law by calling in sick to protest in Frankfort earlier this year.

The Labor Cabinet said that the protesting teachers were eligible to be fined $1,000 for each day they protested because they violated the state’s law banning public workers from striking.

Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson said that teachers wouldn’t be fined this time, but that they might be in the future.

U of L to buy KentuckyOne Hospitals Wednesday, Aug 14 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville announced it will buy KentuckyOne Health’s Louisville assets on Aug. 14. This move was made to prevent the closure of the struggling Jewish Hospital and other local medical facilities.

U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said, “These medical facilities and the thousands of professionals who work there have for decades provided high quality medical care to patients throughout our community and beyond.”

“We are proud to protect that legacy and to ensure the continuation of that care as we acquire and enhance these facilities.”

As part of the deal U of L will be paying $10 million to acquire the KentuckyOne assets. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development has pledged a $50 million, 20-year loan, to support this purchase. That loan will have to be introduced and approved by the state legislature next January.

The loan from the state was vital to help offset the significant financial risk for the university. In agreement with the loan, the state said they would forgive half of the loan if U of L meets certain criteria. KentuckyOne’s parent company, CommonSpirit Health, has also agreed to forgive $19.7 million U of L owes in outstanding promissory notes.

U of L will receive more than $76 million in anticipated capital towards future operating expenses.

Gov. Matt Bevin said, “U of L’s acquisition of the KentuckyOne facilities will maintain more than 5,000 jobs in the healthcare sector and ensure that our healthcare delivery system in Metro Louisville is preserved.”

“I am confident that this acquisition will further the incredible medical research occurring at these facilities, while simultaneously meeting the growing demand for quality, cutting-edge healthcare services.”

Two other local foundations are investing in the future of this plan. Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and St. Mary’s Healthcare Foundation will contribute $10 and $40 million respectively, to be paid over four years.

Outside investing has been the key to making this purchase possible for U of L said Bendapudi. Lack of financial backing led to the original deal falling through in June.

Bendapudi also said Jewish Hospital has been slated to be closed in just two months, which made these negotiations urgent.

U of L will have to determine how to operate these facilities profitably. They will also need to find money for hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades. Bendapudi noted this purchase is a risky deal, but also one that offers opportunity.

With the addition of these hospitals, medical school residents and students will have more resources at hand. It will allow them to conduct more cutting-edge research and clinical trials. This will bring about 5,500 more employees to the University as well.

What U of L is buying as listed on their transaction sheet:

  • Jewish Hospital, including visitor and employee parking garages.
  • Frazier Rehab and Neuroscience Center
  • St. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital
  • Jewish Hospital Shelbyville
  • Our Lady of Peace Hospital
  • Physicians groups affiliated with KentuckyOne
  • Outpatient Facilities: Medical Center Jewish East, South, Southwest, and Northeast

The U of L Board of Trustees unanimously approved the plan, expected to close on Nov. 1 pending approval. The acquired locations will be branded under U of L Health.

Photo by Gabriel Wiest / The Louisville Cardinal

The post U of L to buy KentuckyOne Hospitals appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Oral arguments set in Medicaid court battle over Kentucky HEALTH Friday, Aug 2 2019 

A date has been set for oral arguments in a legal battle over whether work requirements should be imposed on some Medicaid recipients in Kentucky and Arkansas. Oral arguments on the Kentucky HEALTH and Arkansas Works programs are set for Oct. 11 at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Both […]

Kentucky AG clears Passport Health acquisition by Evolent Monday, Jul 29 2019 

A screenshot of Passport Health Plan's website.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has cleared the Evolent Health acquisition of Louisville-based Passport Health Plan. “Based upon our review … the anticipated transactions will result in the protection of charitable assets,” Beshear wrote in a letter to Passport’s attorney. Beshear’s office said in a news release that “the anticipated purchase will result in the […]