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Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

By now, everyone who isn’t emotionally involved with Dancing with the Stars or Bachelor, is acutely aware that the state, going into the 2015 legislative session, is flirting with a $1.6 billion budget deficit.

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the growing backlog of sorely needed infrastructure repairs for state highways and universities totaling well over a billion dollars. Nor does it include previous deep cuts to health care and higher education.

Things are so bad that an increasingly desperate Bobby Jindal, running out of state buildings, vehicles and hospitals to sell or agency funds to raid, is even looking to sell the remainder of the state tobacco settlement money and the State Lottery in order to generate yet even more one-time revenue to cover recurring expenses.

And remember, this is the man who told the Monroe News-Star he was leaving the state in better shape than he found it. http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/13/gov-jindal-want-finish-strong/70262992/

Still, every year those non-government organizations (NGOs) make the obligatory trek to Baton Rouge with hands out, asking that legislators appropriate funding for their organizations. This year is no exception as 80 individual entities have submitted requests for funding of 89 separate projects totaling nearly $241.3 million.

Of that amount, $116 million, or 48 percent, were for NGOs in the greater New Orleans area.

Many of the requests are from the usual worthy organizations like councils on aging, youth groups and charitable organizations.

Among the larger requests:

  • $26 million for the Foundation for Science & Math Education in New Orleans;
  • $17.2 million for the Girl Scouts of Louisiana East in New Orleans;
  • $4.4 million for Kingsley House in New Orleans;
  • $1.6 million for the Louisiana Arts & Science Museum in Baton Rouge (two projects);
  • $8 million for the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans;
  • $5 million for the Louisiana Food Bank Association in Baton Rouge;
  • $4 million for the Louisiana Regional Leadership Council in Lafayette;
  • $27.7 million for a National Hurricane Museum and Science Center in Lake Charles;
  • $1.4 million for renovations to VFW Post 8852 in Alexandria;
  • $14.9 million for the North Desoto Water System in Stonewall;
  • $4.1 million for the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans;
  • $1.2 million for Sci-Port (Louisiana’s Science Center) in Shreveport;
  • $10.7 million for repairs at the State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport;
  • $2.1 million for Administrators of the Tulane Education Fund in New Orleans;
  • $4.3 million for Lighthouse for the Blind in New Orleans;
  • $4.9 million for the Louisiana Association for the Blind in Shreveport;
  • $3 million for the Baton Rouge Empowerment Foundation;
  • $10 million for the Gulf Coast Restoration and Protection Foundation in Baton Rouge;
  • $7 million for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana;
  • $2 million for the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra;
  • $2.6 million for Loyola University in New Orleans;
  • $1.1 million for WYES Educational Television in New Orleans;
  • $11.8 million for University Hospital & Clinics in Lafayette (two projects);
  • $37.3 million for the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans;
  • $5.68 for the Biomedical Research Foundation Northwest in Shreveport;
  • $4.5 million for the NOLA Motorsports Hospitality Committee in New Orleans.

The last four warrant particular attention.

While all such organizations are barred from making political contributions because of their non-profit status, officers and members of their boards of directors are not bound by such restrictions. Jindal received $167,000, various members of the Louisiana House and Senate got $65,650, and the Louisiana Republican Party was the beneficiary of another $26,000 from seven principals connected with those four organizations.

University Hospital in Lafayette has been taken over by Lafayette General Medical Center in Jindal’s sweeping state hospital privatization scheme which raises immediate question of why the state should be funding projects at that facility.

Same for the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, which last year assumed operation of LSU Medical Center in Shreveport and E.A. Conway Medical Center in Monroe. The foundation received $5.7 million in state largesse last year.

The Audubon Institute receives millions of state dollars every year, much of which goes to the upkeep of the institute’s golf course. Last year, for example, Audubon Institute received $16.8 million in legislative appropriations.

But for sheer audacity, we give you the NOLA Motorsports Hospitality Committee. Here is its summary justifying its request for $4.5 million:

  • NOLA Motorsports Park in Jefferson Parish, through a competitive process, has been selected as the site for an INDYCAR event to be part of the championship Verizon INDYCAR Series. The selection was made, in part, because of the availability of a venue for the Event and related activities, transportation infrastructure, personnel, commitment to comply with the required specifications, and because of the collaborative relationships that have been established with other support entities. The Nola Motorsports Host Committee, Inc., a non-profit corporation, has committed to host a first-class Event and to plan and provide a unique and entertaining visitor experience for all which will include live music from Louisiana artists, regional cuisine, and demonstrations of Louisiana’s culture to enhance the visitor experiences for all participants including drivers, team owners, team supporters, corporate sponsors, family and guests, media, and other attendees; and
  • The public purpose of the Event is to provide supplemental funding to the Nola Motorsports Host Committee, Inc. to host the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana which will support the expansion and promotion of tourism by producing an event that is projected to stimulate substantial growth in the Louisiana tourism industry, resulting in job creation and other increased economic activity, including the generation of tax revenue for state and local governments. Nola Motorsports Host Committee has secured a preliminary economic impact analysis from Formula, LLC which indicates an estimated economic impact of $27.8 million annually from the Event. INDYCAR has guaranteed a 3-year lifecycle of the Event with the goal of the Event being an annual occurrence. The goal is to attract visitors to Louisiana and to maintain awareness and a positive image of Louisiana as a unique and desirable travel destination. It is anticipated that the public benefit is proportionate to the obligations undertaken by the State. The State will receive tourism publicity and recognition for its support through verbal acknowledgements, media events, and in other related publicity associated with promoting and publicizing the Event.

But wait. Didn’t this same organization receive $4 million from the state just last year for track improvements after Jindal made a commitment to the track owners to come through with the money?

Well, yes and no.

This is where things get a bit murky.

You see, last year, when Jindal yanked a $4.5 million appropriation away from the developmentally disabled, it was to give the money to NOLA Motor Club (The NGO got $4 million, not the $4.5 it requested), a corporation that was established in September of 2009 and which remains in good standing.

This year, however, the $4.5 million request came from a corporation calling itself NOLA Motorsports Host Committee, established last June.

Both corporations listed their addresses at 11075 Nicolle Blvd. in Avondale, however, but had different officers, according to corporate records on file with the Secretary of State’s office.

But wait. There is a third entity: NOLA Motorsports established in May of 2008 and located at 2251 Drusilla Lane, Suite B in Baton Rouge. But that corporation is listed as inactive and records show its corporate status was revoked on Aug. 16, 2013.

One of the officers of NOLA Motor Club was Laney Chouest.

While Laney Chouest was listed as an officer for NOLA Motor Club, he is not listed among the officers for NOLA Motorsports Host Committee. It is nevertheless interesting to note that he, other members of the Chouest family and their many business enterprises have made $166,300 in campaign contributions since 2003. They include $43,800 to various legislators, $26,000 to the Louisiana Republican Party and $96,500 to Jindal.

What best illustrates the arrogance of that fiscally irresponsible appropriation, the thing that pushed it to the status of virtual malfeasance, is the fact that the Senate Finance Committee, taking its cue from Jindal, ripped $4.5 million from the budget for Louisiana’s developmentally disabled in order to free up the money for the racetrack. The lone dissenting vote was that of State Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge). http://louisianavoice.com/2014/05/26/senate-finance-committee-craters-to-jindal-rips-4-5-million-from-developmentally-disabled-for-racetrack/

But what compounds that unconscionable act was the motivation behind Jindal’s action.

The man who for his entire term of office has railed against government encroachment (see: federal stimulus funds, Common Core, medical care, prisons, etc.), obviously based his justification on political expedience and using state government to take care of his contributors.

Though Laney Chouest is not listed among the officers for NOLA Motorsports Host Committee, it is nevertheless interesting to note that he, other members of the Chouest family and their many business enterprises have made $166,300 in campaign contributions since 2003. They include $43,800 to various legislators, $26,000 to the Louisiana Republican Party and $96,500 to Jindal.

Two members of the Senate Finance Committee, Robert “Bret” Allain (R-Franklin) and Norbert “Norby” Chabert (R-Houma), received $2,500 each from Gary Chouest in 2010 and 2011.

Isn’t it interesting how a state so broke as to find itself unable to fund things like highway and bridge repair, health care, higher education, and a host of other essential services, can find $4 million for a race track, $7.7 million for golf courses across the state, $35.1 million for professional sports facilities, $10.1 million for local sports complexes, and another $3 million for baseball stadiums (including $1.4 million for a baseball stadium in Baton Rouge, when we don’t even have a team here)?

It will certainly be interesting to follow the outcome of some of these NGO requests.

Especially those last four on the list.

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There’s blood in the water and the sharks are starting to circle.

To clarify the analogy somewhat, the blood is $750 million in tobacco settlement money and the sharks would be 144 state legislators and the guy masquerading as Louisiana’s governor.

Bobby Jindal, the same guy who as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) in 1996, opposed the state’s participation in the 46-state litigation against the nation’s four largest tobacco companies, now wants to sell off the remaining portion of the 1998 settlement of that suit to generate $750 million for the state treasury.

That’s the same Bobby Jindal who as DHH secretary, was well aware that the state was spending millions of dollars per year in treatment of indigent patients for tobacco-related illnesses at the state’s charity hospitals, but nevertheless signed affidavits along with his boss, then-Gov. Mike Foster, that argued that Attorney General Richard Ieyoub did not have the authority to sue on behalf of the state and DHH.

That’s also the same Bobby Jindal who as governor in absentia, successfully opposed the lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) against 97 oil and gas companies in an effort to hold them accountable for damages to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, claiming that SLFPA-E did not have authority to file suit on behalf of the state.

No matter. The tobacco litigation was settled for $365.5 billion in 1998 and the state was in line to receive $4.6 billion, or $141.2 million per year for 25 years and continued payments as long as tobacco products are sold within the state as its share of the settlement. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/tobacco-settlement-payments/

But in 2001, the state, with the support of State Treasurer John Kennedy, sold 60 percent of its settlement income as a hedge against the possibility of bankruptcy by the tobacco companies. That money was placed in a trust fund that generates revenue for health care, education and the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), the program that provides college scholarships to Louisiana high school students to meet curriculum and grade criteria.

Now, though, Jindal is proposing selling off the remaining 40 percent, a move that Kennedy opposes, saying it represents the same disastrous fiscal policy that is responsible for the current $1.6 billion structural deficit in the state budget.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, in her usual condescending manner, said Kennedy does not understand what the administration is trying to do.

“The only way we will consider this is if it creates recurring revenue for TOPS,” she said, adding that the money would not be spent all at one time.

But Nichols and Jindal only have a few months left in office and have no way of guaranteeing how the money will be used and Kennedy is more than a little skeptical of Jindal’s motives. “It’s just another gimmick to generate one-time money,” he said. “It’s just not a good idea to sell the family silver.”

He said the administration does not have the authority to dictate how the money is spent. “That will be the decision of the legislature and with the history of the legislature being what it is, you know they can’t wait to get their hands on this money,” he said.

Kennedy said the proposed sale is much like the manner in which the Office of Group Benefits (OGB) saw its reserve fund reduced from $500 million to only about $100 million and still dwindling.

“The administration reduced premiums for OGB members which on the surface, looked like a great thing for the members.” What the administration didn’t say is that the move also reduced the state’s corresponding obligation to match premiums, thus freeing up money the state would have paid into OGB for helping Jindal patch his budget holes. Meanwhile, because of reduction in income from premiums, OGB found itself paying out about $14 million more in benefits each month than it was taking in, thus creating a continuous drawdown on the reserve fund.

Kennedy said the revenue from the sale of the tobacco settlement cannot be used to plug budget holes because it would have to be used for TOPS and higher education. But by dedicating the money for TOPS, it would allow the administration to take the money it would normally use for those two purposes and redirect it to the state budget.

Kennedy said the administration has taken on all the characteristics of a junkie in search of a fix.

He said Jindal’s chronic use of one-time money to fill budget holes has included selling state property, raiding the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly, indirectly taking funds from the OGB reserve fund. “When you get hooked badly enough, you will sell your shoes for a fix,” Kennedy said. “Any farmer knows it’s a bad idea to sell your seed corn because then you don’t have anything to plant next year’s crop.”

Noting that Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s bond rating agencies have already put Louisiana on negative credit watch, he said the rating agencies will take a dim view of the state’s selloff of the remainder of the tobacco settlement which is currently generating about $50 million a year for the state.

Nichols said the proposal to sell the remaining 40 percent of the settlement would have to be approved by the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corp. Board, the Legislature and the State Bond Commission. The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. in House Committee Room 1 in the State Capitol.

Approval by the board is expected to be a mere formality since the board members are Jindal appointees.

“My fear is that all $750 million of this money will be spent,” Kennedy said. “Everyone will want a piece of the pie. That will only add to our structural deficit and what will we do next once the money is gone? We’ve got to stop thinking about the next election and begin thinking about the next generation. Don’t hold this fire sale.”

If the board does approve it and it goes before the Legislature, “we are going to do everything we can to oppose the sale,” Kennedy said.

The practice of Bobby Jindal’s selling off everything in sight to raise money is reminiscent of a 2011 comment by former State Sen. Butch Gautreaux (D-Morgan City) who, in criticizing Jindal’s practice of selling state property, suggested acerbically that perhaps the administration should consider selling the 24-story State Capitol building because “it would make a great waterslide.” http://louisianavoice.com/2011/04/29/of-water-slides-and-comparisons-between-2-state-health-plans/

 

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Gov. Bobby has a serious problem.

Yeah, we know. We have to narrow that down a bit.

We already know about his ethical and moral problems. But more specifically, he has a major constitutional problem.

We’re not talking about the Louisiana State Constitution here; we’re talking about the U.S. Constitution.

And all you birthers out there who have gotten your innards twisted in knots trying to prove that President Obama is (a) not a U.S. citizen and (b) is a closet Islamist working from within to bring this country down, we have a new assignment for you along those same lines.

And you aren’t going to like it because this time the shoe is on the other foot, i.e. the right (as in right-wing) foot. What follows has been alluded to on several occasions in comments to blogs and online news stories but to our knowledge, no one has written extensively on the subject.

Now pay attention because this gets a little dicey and will require that you follow some logic and everyone knows by now that Gov. Bobby’s faithful followers aren’t very logical. They seem to prefer that he do their thinking for them.

It is common knowledge that Gov. Bobby has aligned himself solidly with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) and Gene Mills of the Family Forum. In fact, one might say that Gov. Bobby is joined at the left hip by one and the right hip by the other. Which hip doesn’t really matter.

In fact, not quite two years ago, Gov. Bobby even appointed Perkins to the Louisiana Law Enforcement Commission, though Gov. Bobby’s office, for whatever reason, steadfastly denied the appointment until it finally became the subject of national news. http://cenlamar.com/2013/09/26/bobby-jindal-appoints-unethical-hate-monger-tony-perkins-to-law-enforcement-commission/

About that same time, Gov. Bobby attended a Family Forum banquet and posed with Mills as the two held Mills’s “Gladiator” sword, whatever that is.

Bobby Jindal holding Gene Mills's "Gladiator" sword during last week's Louisiana Family Forum banquet

And just last month, it was learned that Gov. Bobby will be traveling to Israel next fall as the special guest of Perkins’ FRC. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/02/bobby_jindal_israel_tony_perki.html

Perkins and Mills, both personally and through their respective organizations, have continued to oppose abortion and to maintain that life begins at conception. That, of course, is their right but it’s important to point out here that Gov. Bobby is right there with them on this issue, even vetoing a bill that would have allowed contracts for surrogate births. In vetoing the bill, he said life is created by God, not a test tube.

In fact, Gov. Bobby has claimed that it is a biological fact that life begins at conception.

And therein lies his knotty little constitutional problem.

Are you keeping up? We hope so, because it’s about to get a bit more difficult to follow.

According to the U.S. Constitution, one must be a natural born citizen of this country to become president. And we concede that Gov. Bobby was indeed born in this country on June 10, 1971.

Without wading into the argument ourselves about just when life begins, it is nevertheless important to note that his parents immigrated to America from India when his mother was three months pregnant—meaning that while he may have been born here, he was actually conceived in India.  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/world/americas/22iht-22louisiana.7991675.html?_r=1&

So here’s the logic: If life begins at conception, a claim Gov. Bobby says is supported by biological fact (and remember, he was a biology major at Ivy League Brown University), and if he was conceived in India, then he would have to necessarily be considered a native of India and therefore constitutionally disqualified from seeking the U.S. presidency.

We know that’s a bitter pill for him and Timmy Teepell to swallow, but the facts are the facts—and they are supported by no less than biological science, according to none other than Gov. Bobby himself.

So, the way we see it, he’s in something of a pickle. He has boxed himself in, outsmarted himself, as it were. Consequently, he now has no choice other than to announce that he not only will not, but cannot, seek the Republican nomination for president because of that pesky little constitutional prohibition.

We are certain that a man of his unimpeachable ethics and high moral character would never wish to ascend to the presidency on the mere technicality that he was born in this country when it must be his inevitable conviction that his life began at conception—in India.

As an added twist to the plot, let’s consider the question of religion.

Some of Obama’s detractors, and there are many (and we’re not exactly fans either, for that matter), have tossed out broad hints that he may just be a secret Islamic agent in disguise with the intent of bringing down this country on behalf of his Islamic brotherhood.

But wait! Isn’t he a Baptist? No matter. That’s just his cover.

Well, then, what about Gov. Bobby?

That’s not fair, his supporters (mostly limited to his staffers by now) might protest. Everyone knows he is a devout Catholic. Why, by his own admission, he even performed an exorcism while a student at Brown.

And what about all those visits to the north Louisiana Protestant churches where he handed out those giant federal checks to communities during his first term?

Pretty clever, eh? Pose as a good Catholic, conduct an exorcism and even write a paper about it later like it was the real deal and then suck up to the Baptists just to support your cover. Quite the chameleon. But deep down, he could be a Hindu—like his parents. Why, his parents could have been dispatched to this country by the Hindu hierarchy with the express intent of grooming him for the presidency just so he could then dismantle the entire country in the same manner that he has destroyed Louisiana’s economy, higher education and health care and then hand the entire country over to India.

We have to be completely honest, however, and admit that scenario is not only lame, but downright ludicrous. Offensive? Maybe. Politically incorrect? Most definitely.

Frankly, we much prefer the life at conception disqualification theory. It smacks of just enough hypocrisy to fit Gov. Bobby like a glove.

Plus, if it gains traction, Timmy Teepell might even actually find it necessary to go out into the private sector and work for a living like the rest of us.

 

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It’s one thing when Gov. Bobby scoots off to Iowa or Georgia or appears at a CPAC conference or on Faux News to spin his laughable look how great I am distortions about the “Louisiana Miracle.” It’s quite another when respected publications like the Washington Post or the New York Times, or even USA Today (aka McNewspaper) allow him space in their op-ed pages to spread his bovine excrement.

Gov. Bobby’s latest attempt to give unsuspecting readers and blind loyalists in the other 49 states his view of Louisiana through those rose-colored glasses is an op-ed in USA Today in which he, apparently oblivious to shame or any sense of irony, bloviates that he has succeeded in his promise “to make the economy bigger and the government smaller” and that he accomplished “what the federal government has failed to do.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/03/08/tax-cuts-louisiana-gov-bobby-jindal-editorials-debates/24613069/

If you’re into gallows humor, you’ll love these excerpts from his piece which, if we didn’t know better, was written for Comedy Central rather than a national newspaper. Here are a few of the accomplishments for which he takes credit and which the rest of us somehow missed:

  • Balanced budgets. (WTF? Does a $1.6 billion deficit looked balanced to anyone else? Does patching the budget all seven years of his administration with one-time money appear “balanced”?)
  • (We have) over 30,000 fewer state workers, than when we took office in 2008. Well, not quite. The actual figures, according to the Department of Civil Service, show that 13,577 positions have been abolished and 8,396 state employees have been laid off. The difference between abolished positions and layoffs can be attributed to targeting vacant positions for abolishment. So the actual reduction in the number of employees is 72 percent lower than his claims. Just another Jindal lie.ELIMINATED STATE POSITIONS BY YEAR
  • Louisiana’s economy is stronger than ever. (Wait. What? The last time we looked, the median household income in Louisiana was eighth lowest in the nation and our poverty rate the third highest with 10.7 percent of all households reporting an income of less than $10,000 per year.
  • Louisiana has received eight credit rating upgrades. (Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor are threatening to degrade the state’s credit rating. Sarah Palin’s lipstick on a pig comment comes to mind here. It would be interesting to see how you square your pontifications with the facts here.)
  • Louisiana’s economy has grown nearly twice as fast as the national economy. (Quite simply, a lie. All surveys show the state’s economic growth rate to be slower than the nation as a whole and the state is generally ranked 34th. In fact the nation’s GDP growth in 2013 was 1.8 percent, compared to Louisiana’s 1.3 percent. Even Mississippi’s was higher.)
  • We have outlined ways to minimize budget reductions to vital services such as higher education and health care. (Tuition at state colleges has increased 52 percent, eighth highest in the nation, since Gov. Bobby took office and his refusal to accept Medicaid expansion has deprived health care to 270,000 Louisiana residents and forced the closure of one of Baton Rouge’s busiest emergency rooms.) http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4135
  • “I do not measure Louisiana’s success by the prosperity of our government. I measure it by the prosperity of our people.” (That being the case, you are a colossal flop as a leader, politician, governor, and as a human being because it is your policies that have mired this state in the mud of mediocrity. You have deliberately set this state on a disastrous course—a course which you, for whatever reasons, continue to defend—of destruction. You have destroyed higher education, you have destroyed health care, you have destroyed the state’s infrastructure, you have destroyed the economy, you have destroyed a $500 million reserve fund set aside to guarantee uninterrupted medical care for state employees, retirees and their dependents, you have obliterated a $1 billion surplus when you took office seven years ago, somehow turning it into a $1.6 billion deficit. And worse than all that, you have turned your back on your people and the job they elected you to do so that you might continue on your fool’s errand of chasing an impossible dream of become president while the metaphorical crops rot in the fields back home.)

As a means of returning to reality, Gov. Bobby might wish to take a look at the USA Today poll that accompanied his latest work of fiction. At last check by LouisianaVoice, the poll showed that 13 percent of readers strongly agreed with Gov. Bobby while 3 percent simply agreed. Two percent had no clue while 9 percent disagreed and 73 percent strongly disagreed. Bottom line: 16 percent were in accord on some level with what he wrote while a whopping 82 percent weren’t buying.

Gov. Bobby, it should be pointed out, has opposed equal pay for women, rejected grants that would have gone to early childhood development and to expand broadband internet services in rural areas of the state, rejected a federal grant to help develop a high-speed rail line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and robbed funds from state agencies in order to patch over budget holes—things he never mentions in those stand up comedy acts at CPAC or in his op-ed pieces.

Even USA Today, apparently feeling some remorse for giving Gov. Bobby a stage on which to spew his rhetoric, was compelled to run its own piece in which it pointed out that not all is well in the land of gumbo and Mardi Gras. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/03/08/tax-cuts-state-louisiana-gov-jindal-kansas-gov-brownback-editorials-debates/24616613/

“Louisiana’s jobless rate has gone from much better than the national rate in 2008 to much worse,” the paper said, adding that Gov. Bobby “cherry-picks the years” on the economic growth rates and “doesn’t mention that since 2010, the state has lagged behind the national recovery.”

Pointing out that both Louisiana and Kansas have implemented huge tax cuts, USA Today says, “The results have been dismal. Growth has been sluggish in both states, and the plunge in revenue has devastated both states’ budgets.”

Recently, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported that Gov. Bobby spent 45 percent of 2014 outside the state as he chased the Republican president nomination. Jim Beam, writing in the Lake Charles American Press, said that in addition to becoming a national and international political critic, Gov. Bobby “continued to tell the rest of the world how great things were going back home. His listeners seldom bothered to check the facts.” http://www.americanpress.com/Beam-column-3-8-15

Beam, who has been around the state’s political scene for decades, noted that under Gov. Bobby, tax credits, exemptions and breaks given to business and industry which were projected to produce increased state revenue have not done so despite a cost of almost $7 billion per year.

After enduring seven years of non-stop sliding into economic and political oblivion under this administration, we have some unsolicited advice for Gov. Bobby:

Your term of office will end in approximately 10 months. Back the U-Haul up to the governor’s mansion, pile your belongings in it and hit I-10 and keep going. Don’t stop until you have settled in Iowa, New Hampshire, at some think tank in Washington, or on the Faux News set. Anywhere but Louisiana. Take Timmy Teepell, LABI apologist Steve Waguespack (who apparently does not believe in the First Amendment and who believes a college professor has no right to an opinion or the right to write a political column on his own time), and Kristy Nichols with you.

And please, whatever you do….don’t come back.

….And there’s really no need to wait until next January since you’ve already quit.

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Gov. Bobby’s ill-fated, self-serving decision to opt out of a Medicaid expansion for Louisiana is beginning to pay off in an ever-expanding crisis in medical care for the indigent population of Louisiana—on at least two fronts.

An occasional admission of error could go far in establishing a politician’s credibility but it is downright exasperating when this governor is so blind, so stubborn, so obnoxious, so obstinate, so pig-headed, and so disconnected that he cannot bring himself to cross Grover Norquist, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or the tea party—even when his decision endangers the health and even the lives of more than a quarter of a million of his constituents.

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-more-evidence-medicaid-20141027-column.html

Of course it was only a matter of time before the chickens would come home to roost but Gov. Bobby, Timmy Teepell, Kristy Nichols, et al, figured they would long gone and on their way to the White House before the fecal matter hit the oscillating air circulation device.

They were wrong and now they’re covered with the metaphoric filth of their own making with no one to blame but themselves.

The details of the latest developments are so horrific as to defy logic but tragically, they are true.

When Gov. Bobby decided to privatize the state’s charity hospital system (which, by the way, accounts for most of the state employee cuts he loves to crow about on Faux News, in his op-ed pieces, and speeches to his right-wing zealot faithful), he closed Earl K. Long Medical Center (EKL) in Baton Rouge.

That, of course, forced many low-income residents in the northern part of East Baton Rouge Parish to go to Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City medical center for emergency room treatments.

The only problem with that was Gov. Bobby had entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement with Our Lady of the Lake (OLOL) in south Baton Rouge. Consequently, OLOL was—and is—one of only two facilities in East Baton Rouge Parish receiving payments from the state. The other is Woman’s Hospital. Neither of the Baton Rouge General facilities (Mid-City and Bluebonnet), Ochsner Medical Center, nor Lane Memorial in Zachary received a dime from the state.

Because of that, Baton Rouge General recently announced that its Mid-City facility would cease operating its emergency room, effective March 31, because of the financial strain placed on it by the overflow from EKL.

When Gov. Bobby announced the cooperative endeavor agreement with OLOL in January of 2010, he was quite specific in saying the agreement to pay OLOL something on the order of $34 million ($14 million as per the agreement, plus the $24 million already appropriated for the LSU Medical Center which previously had trained its residents at EKL; some estimates put the state’s payments as high as $100 million) would “improve and expand access to health care services for the poor and enhance graduate medical education for Louisiana’s doctors, nurses and health care professionals.” (Emphasis ours.) http://dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/88

Moreover, the cooperative endeavor agreement with OLOL says on pages 7 and 8:

  • WHEREAS, LSU is obligated by Louisiana law to provide free or reduced cost care to certain patients who qualify for such care;
  • WHEREAS, the State’s purpose of this initiative, which is recognized by OLOL and LSU, is to provide Medicaid recipients with integrated, coordinated care, management of chronic disease, improvement in access to preventive and diagnostic services for children and adults, improve recipient satisfaction with access to care and the care experience and provide the State with improved budget predictability;
  • WHEREAS, in the interest of advancing the State’s goal of improving integration and coordination of health care services for the low-income populations, and recognizing the opportunity presented by the integration of outpatient and community-based services provided by LSU, inpatient and outpatient services provided by OLOL, and a payment mechanism being made available by DHH (Department of Health and Hospitals) that integrates all services through a prepaid model, the State, OLOL, and LSU intend to participate as a coordinated care network within Medicaid as proposed by DHH;
  • WHEREAS, in order to successfully meet their respective purposes, OLOL, LSU, and the State intend to enter into this public/private collaborative whereby certain residency positions in the LSU GME (Graduate Medical Education) programs and patient care services will be relocated to the OLOL campus. (Emphasis ours.)

Click here to read the CEA.

But wait. Could there be a loophole in that agreement?

Apparently OLOL thinks so.

LouisianaVoice has learned that OLOL is taking the position that its only obligation under terms of the now infamous cooperative endeavor agreement is for residency training of LSU medical students. Apparently care for the indigent is off the (examination) table.

That should come as no surprise. After all, OLOL had already dug in its heels and had begun refusing to take indigent transfers from Baton Rouge General Mid-City’s emergency room if they were not already in the LSU system—and some, apparently, who were.

Woman’s also is refusing to take indigent patients.

Of course, it was also to the state’s advantage that OLOL and Woman’s not treat indigent patients or accept indigent transfers from Baton Rouge General because as long as those patients never see the inside of the OLOL emergency room or Woman’s treatment center, the state does not have to pay for their treatment (as in the decision to lower health insurance premium rates for state employees—not so much to help the employees as to lower the state’s premium share which in the long run only resulted in the depletion of Group Benefit’s $500 million reserve fund. Are we seeing a pattern here?).

All of which raises the obvious question: could all this be by design?

Obviously, no one would admit to any conspiracy.

But how could OLOL refuse indigent patients if it is the only facility in East Baton Rouge Parish receiving payments from the state for treating indigent patients?

Good question and the answer to that goes a long way in the decision by Baton Rouge General to shut down its Mid-City emergency room, leaving indigent patients with no apparent place to go for emergency treatment—in flagrant violation of clause in the agreement that says the state is obligated by Louisiana law to provide free or reduced cost care to certain patients who qualify for such care.” (Emphasis ours.)

Sometimes those WHEREASes can come back to bite you.

LouisianaVoice also has learned that Gov. Bobby’s latest round of budget cuts may have figured in the decision by Children’s Hospital in New Orleans to delay taking over operations of the state’s new billion-dollar University Medical Center New Orleans (UMCNO) from May 15 to at least August. http://www.umcno.org/about-us

Gov. Bobby’s budget cuts, necessitated mainly by his squirrely fiscal policies, leaves all of the LSU hospitals across the state woefully short of the funding needed to keep them open under the various agreements the state has entered into with private hospitals for their management. http://theadvocate.com/news/11751470-123/state-hospital-operators-say-jindal

In the case of UMCNO, built to replace the old Big Charity that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, the state is coming up $88 million short of needed funding, according to Children’s CEO Gregory Feirn.

“If the state does not restore the funding, then the state is deciding not to allow for care for the people of New Orleans, deciding not to open their state-of-the-art facility that is nearly finished and striking a crippling blow to medical education in Louisiana,” he said in a prepared written statement.

Strong words indeed, but then Gov. Bobby long ago, with his decision to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, made that decision.

Rep. Walt Leger (D-New Orleans), House Speaker Pro Tem, was especially critical of Gov. Bobby. “The budget is in such a mess,” he said. “We keep hearing from (Commissioner of Administration) Kristy Nichols that they are in negotiations to work matters out.

“We expect to operate a world-class facility that we invested a billion dollars in but now we learn that the date for Children’s Hospital to take it over has been pushed back,” he said.

State Treasurer John Kennedy, appearing on a New Orleans radio talk show, said the news concerned him. “Feirn is a very able administrator and I think they’ll be able to manage that facility better than the state could. We’ve invested and we’ve got to make that facility work. We do not have a choice,” he said. http://www.wwl.com/Garland-Is-the-University-Medical-Center-ready-to-/10773584?pid=461170

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