BATON ROUGE — A lawsuit has been
brought against Louisiana's state health department by a government-funded nonprofit.
The Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum
the lawsuit against the state health department on Dec. 12, claiming
that the department had failed to pay $12 million in funds that were
promised to the forum. The Quality Forum also said that the
Louisiana's health secretary, Rebekah Gee, has caused damage to the
reputation of the nonprofit.
The Forum was created in 2007 in order to improve health care in
post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana. According to the lawsuit, the state
and federal governments provide for about three-quarters of the
organization's funding, and the Forum has a contract with the state
health department than runs from 2012 through mid 2017. The Forum
claims that it relied on the funds promised by the Louisiana
Department of Health and cannot continue to survive if Louisiana's
Department of Health and Gee refuse to continue to provide the
previously promised funding.
The Forum also said there could be “a significant public health
fact” because of the fact that it may have to stop providing
certain health-care services. According to the lawsuit, Gee
instructed the department to withdraw the Louisiana Health Care
Quality Forum's 2016-2017 request for funding after she took over in
January 2016 and did not inform the Forum of the action.
Kelly Zimmerman, spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of
that programs from former Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration are
being reviewed and that changes were being made in order to be
“responsible stewards of public funds.”
Zimmerman also claimed that efforts between the department and the
Quality Forum have been collaborative.
“We've had a productive relationship with the Louisiana Quality
Forum over the past few months,” Zimmerman said.
However, according to the Quality Forum, efforts between them and
the Department of Health have been less than collaborative. Apart
from the issues regarding the funding, the Forum also accused the
Louisiana Department of Health of unfair trade practices and making
defamatory statements about the Quality Forum's services and efforts
that have cause great damage to the reputation of the organization.
According to the lawsuit, the Forum claimed that the Louisiana
Department of health made the defamatory comments to other
organizations and people within the health-care industry in order to
discourage them from doing business with the Forum. The lawsuit also
stated that the Forum believes that the Louisiana Department of
Health attempted to use the power of the state to put the
organization out of business and shift projects to its competitors.
Zimmerman claimed that the accusations are false and that the
Louisiana Department of Health have fulfilled their obligations to
the Quality Forum, disagreeing with claims made by Forum in the
The Quality Forum seeks monetary damages from the Department for
defamation and unfair trade practices. The organization is being
represented by Ellie Schilling of Schonekas, Evans, McGoey and
McEachin of New Orleans.