- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The manager of LSU’s charity hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe hasn’t paid $5.3 million into an escrow account as required by its reworked contractual arrangement with the state, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration said Thursday.

Cody Wells, a spokesman for Edwards’ Division of Administration, said the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana missed a deadline this week to deposit the money and “remains delinquent on its payment to the escrow account.”

The hospital operator, known as BRF, said it would wire the money Friday morning.

The $5.3 million must be set aside for billings BRF disputes with LSU, leaving it in escrow while an outside arbiter determines whether the university’s Shreveport medical school should receive the money.

Initially Thursday, BRF issued a statement saying it had the money set aside and was working with the Edwards administration “to finalize the escrow agreement, which must be in place before the funds can be wired.”

But Wells said no such escrow agreement was needed under the terms of the hospital deal.

“BRF is again delinquent and has been notified it needs to make the escrow payment immediately,” he said.

Hours later, the hospital manager announced it had an agreement with the Edwards administration “on the terms of the escrow, and we will be funding it Friday morning.”

The payment was part of renegotiated terms the Edwards administration reached with the research foundation earlier this month.

The hospital operator did pay $6.9 million to LSU for unpaid bills, money that also was owed this week, Wells said.

The research foundation is operating the Monroe and Shreveport hospitals as University Health, under a 2013 contract struck by former Gov. Bobby Jindal and the reworked terms added in the negotiations with the Edwards administration.

The privatization deal in north Louisiana has been contentious over the past three years, with both LSU and BRF trading accusations of financial mismanagement.


Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

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