Gambit’s Clancy DuBos takes Jindal to task on transparency and a privatized Medicaid management system in serious need of oversight.
A new report from an independent government watchdog warns that lawmakers should keep a sharp eye on Jindal’s new privatized Medicaid program, which will control $2 billion in public funds and provide care for almost 900,000 Louisiana Medicaid patients.
Medicaid is the federally subsidized health care program for poor people. States pay a healthy share of Medicaid costs (about 30 percent in Louisiana). Given Louisiana’s large proportion of poor folks, Medicaid comprises a significant portion of the state’s annual budget.
The good news is that Louisiana’s Medicaid program is among the cheapest in the country on a per-patient basis. We rank 48th on spending per child and 41st on spending per person. Most Medicaid patients are kids.
Jindal’s plan will outsource Medicaid case management for most patients to five insurance companies starting next year. The only open question is: Will anybody other than Team Jindal be minding the store?
Lawmakers in 2010 approved a bill that they thought gave them oversight of Jindal’s new program. They learned after the fact that a set of “technical amendments” adopted in the Senate stripped out the oversight provision. That infuriated many lawmakers; technical amendments are not supposed to make substantive changes.
Last summer, lawmakers unanimously passed a bill providing for legislative oversight — plus a “sunset” provision ending Jindal’s grand experiment in 2014. Jindal vetoed the bill after the session adjourned, rendering an override all but impossible.
While legislative attempts at oversight have failed, the issue has not gone away. Last week, the Public Affairs Research Council (PAR), a nonpartisan watchdog group based in Baton Rouge, released a detailed report on Jindal’s “Coordinated Care Networks” plan and called for an independent oversight commission to make sure the plan works as touted — and to add accountability to the process.
The PAR report is a must-read. This is $2 billion a year of your money, folks. The report is objective and thorough. It does not take a position as to whether Jindal’s idea is good or bad, just that it needs oversight.
One area of concern is that Jindal is privatizing health care for a segment of the population that already ranks among the cheapest to treat. If costs are already low, how will private insurers find room for profit?
The PAR report notes that Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana, the state’s largest health insurer, “decided not to [participate in the program] after the company’s actuaries advised against participating.” In other words, the biggest player in the game concluded that there’s no legitimate room for honest profit — essentially concluding that Louisiana’s Medicaid program may not be so badly run after all. At a minimum, it’s relatively cheap.
The governor obviously feels otherwise, and there is certainly anecdotal evidence of fraud in the system.
The bottom line, PAR says, is that lawmakers should “take the lead in providing oversight” by establishing a special committee or commission. “While the state health agency is taking the primary role, a well-focused oversight commission independent of the administration would help verify the results,” says PAR President Robert Travis Scott. “Verification can build public trust and identify problems.”
Trust is the key. Any objective observer of Bobby Jindal knows that he’s long on spin and short on specifics — and that his administration is among the least transparent in America. Many suspect that Jindal’s primary objective is to declare victory by cutting costs — not to provide good health care. His spin machine is already touting this “sweeping reform” even though it hasn’t taken effect yet.
We’d all have to be insane — and irresponsible — to let him turn over $2 billion in public health care costs to private companies without any independent oversight.
Clancy DuBos is publisher of New Orleans’ Gambit. A version of this column first appeared in that publication.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.