New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Monday the state should stick with the current plan to build a $1.2 billion, 424-bed hospital in the city. Construction financing for the University Medical Center includes $407 million of hospital revenue bonds.

Landrieu, supported at a news conference by a cadre of New Orleans civic and educational leaders, said a large facility is needed to provide the specialized medical training and research envisioned for the hospital. “We have to build a 21st century, state-of-the-art medical complex,” he said. “It has to be transformative. The big idea is to accomplish that task.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who earlier this year supported the 424-bed plan, has asked UMC trustees to consider a smaller, less expensive plan, which was proposed June 9 by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, state Treasurer John Kennedy and Louisiana House Speaker Jim Tucker.

The new plan is a bad idea, Landrieu said. “Let’s put that idea to rest today.”

Tucker argued that the objections to a state subsidy estimated at $100 million were misplaced because the government already provides a $70 million subsidy to the interim LSU medical facility in New Orleans.

He noted that the state will realize a significant return on that additional subsidy of $30 million to support the larger facility.

“The UMC will anchor a biomedical corridor which has the potential to create 8,000 direct jobs, with an average salary of $93,000, not to mention 18,200 in indirect jobs in the community,” Tucker said.

The hospital would replace Old Charity Hospital, which was flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It would serve as the main medical training site for Louisiana State University, Tulane University and other area medical schools.

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