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.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)