Rather, Duncan wants all health-care providers affiliated with WVU to go through the same review process as any other provider in the state when it comes to obtaining certificates of need for projects.
The Health Care Authority requires certificates of need for projects exceeding $2.9 million unless the entity is exempt. UHA argued it was a private practice and therefore exempt from the process. UHA contends it was created as a private physician practice more than 30 years ago, with its own bylaws, members and board of directors.
The Health Care Authority agreed, and in April, the Office of Judges upheld that decision.
UHA also argues it was neither created nor funded by any state or local authority.
But Gaujot said that argument ignores the reality of what he called an "intimate nexus" and "a symbiotic relationship" between WVU Medical Corp. and WVU Hospitals.
They share, for example, the same chief financial officer, Gaujot said. And WVU Board of Governors Policy 55 declares that the FOIA applies to "all units, colleges and divisions" and their employees under the board's jurisdiction.
"Physician faculty members of the WVU School of Medicine, as WVU employees, are subject to the FOIA" under that policy, the judge wrote.
WVU Medical Corp. has also received and benefited from state-issued bonds, he said, and it operates under bylaws that can only be amended with the written permission of WVU's president.
WVU Medical Corp. was created by WVU Hospitals and the School of Medicine "specifically to do what WVU could not do on its own," the judge said -- bill and collect for physician services. "WVUMC is operating for the state's direct benefit and/or at the state's specific behest."
It serves as "a conduit corporation and hand-in-hand" with WVU Hospitals on behalf of both WVU and the School of Medicine on many fronts, Gaujot wrote, with billing being the most important.
"Excess money," he noted, "is remitted to WVU."
The judge also cited a 2010 joint operating agreement between WVU, WVU Hospitals and WVU Medical Corp. to "function as a single strategic and economic unit, to be known as WVU Healthcare."