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.
That would be Congressman John Fleming talking about Sen. David Vitter.
The alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme that went on for four years under DA Mike Harson’s nose isn’t just schizophrenic, bipolar and recovering from mini strokes; he now says he has cancer.
Louisiana's higher education leaders are trying to work out a financing deal to keep the state's public colleges from running low on state cash to operate their campuses.
With their latest triumph, the Saints left little doubt about how tough they are to beat in the Superdome. Unfortunately, two of their remaining three games are on the road.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, December 10, 2013:
For the first time in at least five years, retired teachers, state workers and school system employees could see an increase in their pension checks.
Lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration shared a collective sigh of relief with the news that Louisiana's tax amnesty program brought in the $200 million that they used to help balance this year's budget.
Drew Brees often makes the extraordinary look routine, particularly during night games in the Superdome.
The teams were extended invitations Sunday for the New Year's Day matchup played at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If all 44 projects are approved, about $300 million would remain in the fund set up as a down payment to help the Gulf.
Last week, the Saints gave up 429 yards to Seattle, second most in a game this season.
Since Anthony Jennings and Brooks Haack were not expected to contribute until next year at the earliest, it seemed like a sneak peek at hidden Christmas gifts.
Louisiana National Guard personnel seeking benefits for same-sex spouses will have an easier time filing the requests, despite a state refusal to let its workers process the paperwork.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera sees one potential flaw with his team's stellar defensive play so far this season. "Apparently we like to bite on the double moves," Rivera said.
Computer hackers may have gained access to the personal information of thousands of Louisiana residents who use debit cards issued by JPMorgan Chase for three state agencies, authorities said Wednesday.
Jim Purcell, who has been in the job since February 2011, notified the Board of Regents about his decision at its monthly meeting.
Hushed plans for a commercial development along the Louisiana Avenue portion of the Holy Rosary campus put the future of longtime tenant EarthShare Gardens in jeopardy.
If a recent advertisement in The Daily Advertiser is any indication, speculation the local daily will be implementing the “Butterfly Project” could be more of a reality than the Gannett-owned paper’s top execs are willing to admit.
Mettenberger injured his left knee while unloading a 32-yard completion in the fourth quarter of No. 14 LSU's 31-27 victory over Arkansas last Friday, and LSU coach Les Miles confirmed the severity of the injury on Wednesday.
An ordinance to phase out a 2 percent rebate to Lafayette merchants for collecting and remitting on time sales taxes cleared the City-Parish Council by a 6-3 vote.
Louisianans are the fourth most likely to use profanity yet also the fourth most likely to be courteous. So, please, just kiss my a** ... if it’s not too much trouble.
The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority voted Tuesday to authorize two lawsuits against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
A long night on the field in Seattle got even worse off of it, and now the Saints are operating on a compressed time-frame as they brace for surging Carolina with first place in the NFC South at stake.
Public school letter grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion won't be affected by Louisiana's shift to more rigorous educational standards for two years, the state's top school board decided Tuesday.
Vitter told The Associated Press that he is sending an email to supporters Wednesday and is in discussions with his family about the possibility.