Monthly Archives: March 2013
Governor Bobby Jindal’s office announced today that Bruce Greenstein has resigned as secretary of the Dept. of Health and Hospitals during federal and state investigations of a controversial Medicaid contract.
The Jindal administration canceled the nearly $200 million Medicaid contract with CNSI after word of a federal grand jury probe came out.
Greenstein used to work for the Maryland-based company. Greenstein denied having anything to do with CNSI’s choice when they were selected two years ago. He did acknowledge that a change he pushed in the bid solicitation made CNSI eligible.
File this one under “OMG WTF LOL”.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, or LABI, is one of the gret stet’s most power lobbies. From the tactical end, they control 4 major PAC’s (Ingeniously named NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, and…you guessed it, WEST) that allow them to direct at least $20k of contributions to any single candidate in any race. But more importantly, their political weight works behind the scenes to secure some of the most favorable anti-environmental, economically-regressive policies you can buy. This isn’t business. It’s crony capitalism. But we digress.
Anyway, LABI has been a big Jindal ally on some of his biggest gambits, including education “reform”, retirement reform, and health care privatization. On the Sales tax tip, however, they’re OUT like the slow kid in dodge ball:
Quite a few eyebrows raised in the business community recently when Governor Jindal’s Executive Counsel, Tim Barfield, responded to a question about winners and losers under the governor’s tax swap plan. Barfield, one of the managers of the issue for the governor, said that individuals would pay less and businesses would pay more.
By the time Mr. Barfield testified before the Ways and Means Committee on March 26, he estimated the impact at $500 million. That number is probably higher today than in 2011 and undoubtedly will go up significantly in the future.
A tax increase approaching a half-billion dollars levied on the business community at large definitely flies in the face of that principal goal of the organization for 2013.
LABI’s policy is clear: If the tax swap proposal is introduced as a net increase in business taxes or is amended during the legislative process to take that form, LABI will oppose it.
Swell. Bobby certainly should give these guys, his own teammates here on team “fuck the poor” a little deference, right? Nope:
The governor said the only people who like the current tax system are “lawyers, lobbyists and the people who benefit from loopholes.” He pointed to a study released Tuesday by two think tanks — the Pelican Institute for Public Policy and the Beacon Hill Institute — that concluded the tax proposal would generate an average of $910 in extra cash for the state’s households and create nearly 12,000 new jobs within four years.
“This is good for Louisiana families and Louisiana businesses,” Jindal said.
Yessir, that’s what they call in baseball a “brush-back” pitch from the Governor.
Oh, and as usual, the oil boys got what they want and they’re cool. Preserve their egregious exemptions and they’re back to crushing Louisiana’s coast.
The Jindal administration also distributed a news release from the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association regarding an agreement on severance tax incentives and sales tax incentives affecting the oil and gas industry.
LOGA’s president, Don Briggs, said the administration pledged to keep the oil and gas natural gas service sector exempt from a state sales tax on services.
Putting the puzzle pieces together on #EdReform
I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed by all the rapid changes happening in the education sphere. I’m positive I’m not alone in feeling this way – based on the feedback, articles and correspondence I’ve been receiving from local and national groups and individuals. As I struggled to zero in on a topic where I could help or enlighten the most, something else even more screwed up would be sent to me. I’ve started and stopped work on several pieces, which may make their appearances later, but I feel the need to get my bearings again. All this crazy “stuff” (not my first word choice) needs to be sorted out and organized before I can make any more forward progress. I think the mistake I was making, and many others are probably making, is not connecting all the dots and figuring out what kind of picture they…
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BoJind has made a terrible set of mistakes. Unconstitutional legislation. Federal investigations. Sinkholes. Higher education
chaos. These ships have all sailed. He probably do much to change these disasters. But there is one thing he can do to transform Louisiana for the better.
Dont’ take our word for it.
Expanding health services to Louisiana’s working poor is not a gift, as the state eventually would have to put up some money to match federal Medicaid grants. But it’s a deal worth taking, and we urge Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature to take up the offer. Ultimately, the state has no other solution in view for the problems of the uninsured who are working in low-wage jobs.
With the high rates of diabetes and other chronic but treatable conditions in Louisiana, the broader access to basic health care could save lives. That alone is reason to participate.
The expansion makes sense fiscally as well. For the first three years of the program, 2014 through 2016, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of covering people whose income is 133 percent of the poverty level. After that, Louisiana would have to pay a small percentage — which at most would be 10 percent in 2020 and beyond. Kaiser estimates that the cost for Louisiana would be about $1 billion over 10 years.
The Jindal administration has argued that even 10 percent is too much of a burden. That is absurd, particularly given how many people could be helped with that small investment by the state.
Republican governors and GOP-controlled legislatures will eventually decide to expand Medicaid in their states because the financial benefits are too big to ignore, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview with USA Today. “It not only would bring more people into the health care system, but it would dramatically reduce unpaid medical costs,” Sebelius said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview on the third anniversary of the 2010 health care law, also known as the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Bobby Jindal says Louisiana is not going to accept the federal dollars available in the expanded Medicaid program because health insurance is better handled by private business. The question is: Better for whom? The governor is obviously not talking about 400,000 Louisiana residents who are unable to afford private health insurance but would be able to get health insurance through the expansion. He cannot be referring to Louisiana taxpayers. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation makes the point that Louisiana is turning down $15.8 billion in federal funding in order to save $1.2 billion over 10 years. And we Louisiana taxpayers are going to have to pay for the federal Medicaid expansion whether our state participates or not. Our share of the money that pays for this program will be used to support the Medicaid expansion in other states and, meanwhile, our low-income residents will continue to lack access to care. So who is he talking about?
We urge the Legislature to address this issue as they take up budget matters this spring. Meanwhile, we join the grassroots groups, the statesmen and civic leaders around the state who are raising the cry to Jindal to take the Medicaid expansion money.
But if Louisiana follows through on the governor’s threat to reject the Medicaid expansion, the need for uncompensated care will continue to rise, increasing the financial strains on the system and raising the cost of private coverage as hospitals and doctors try to recover their costs. Meanwhile, the injection of billions in new federal dollars will be a boost to Louisiana’s economy, in much the same way that federal dollars helped the state’s economy recover from Hurricane Katrina. The money will help both directly – by creating jobs in the health care sector – and indirectly, by supporting jobs that provide goods and services to the health-care industry.
David Hood was secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals under Republican former Gov. Mike Foster. Fred Cerise was DHH secretary under Democratic former Gov. Kathleen Blanco. The two men were featured in a newspaper ad published in The (Baton Rouge) Advocate newspaper calling the Medicaid expansion a good deal for Louisiana. “Medicaid expansion offers a path to regular access to healthcare for working adults,” the ad says. Hood and Cerise said the inclusion of up to 400,000 uninsured people in the government-run insurance program would improve people’s health, be a good financial deal for the state and help Louisiana’s healthcare delivery system.
This notion of high costs is illogical, as the federal government will be picking up the full tab for the first three years. And even after that, the cost is negligible, with each state paying just 10 percent of the cost. And as an added slap in the face, if Louisiana does not participate, the portion of the federal money that pays for the program will be used to support the Medicaid expansion in other states. What I don’t get, however, is why Jindal would want to burden Louisiana employers, especially given our tepid economic conditions. Instead of accepting the expansion program, Jindal is opting for a program that gives residents between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty line access to healthcare through the state’s new insurance exchanges. This is where the huge cost from employers comes into play. Individuals would now qualify for premium assistance tax credits. As a result, employers with more than 50 workers would be assessed fees for each employee in that group who received these credits.
We would encourage Gov. Jindal to keep an open mind and to examine his fellow governors’ motivations for their 180-degree turns. The federal government would fund 100 percent of the expanded program for the first three years. After that, the amount would decrease incrementally for 10 years. And that would mean between $15 billion and $25 billion flowing into Louisiana for health care, depending on whose numbers you use.
From the multitude of Louisiana non-profits and advocacy groups (you can sign here too), LaMediciadExpansion.org:
The organizations and individuals listed below believe that Medicaid expansion is the right choice for Louisiana and urge you to reconsider your decision to reject this unprecedented opportunity to improve public health and grow the state’s economy. Medicaid expansion could provide health coverage to 400,000 Louisianans, most of whom are currently uninsured, and bring in billions of new federal dollars. It will benefit Louisiana’s families, businesses, health care providers and the economy—all at little cost to the state budget.
BoJind, there’s only one way to salvation. No amount of exorcisms will be able to expel the demons from your legacy if you don’t take advantage of this opportunity to save lives and improve our future.
Federal Grand Jury investigation prompts Jindal to cancel controversial CNSI contract: but now who will be thrown under the bus?
BUT WHO IS DRIVING THE BUS!
At the risk of sounding a bit smug, regular readers may remember that we had serious misgivings about that $194 million CNSI contract with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) from the outset.
And so, it turns out, does the FBI.
And Gov. Bobby Jindal, much like another governor of some 2,000 years ago, thinks by washing his hands, he can absolve himself of any blame in the entire matter.
In early June of 2011, DHH Secretary-designate Bruce Greenstein appeared before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee for his confirmation hearing and things quickly went south as Greenstein and Undersecretary Jerry Phillips became involved in the old irresistible force-immovable object standoff over the identity of the winning contractor to replace a 23-year-old computer system that adjudicated health care claims and case providers.
The contract is scheduled to go into effect in 2014 but that could change now.
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