The chief opponent of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to turn over a health plan for state employees from the government-operated Office of Group Benefits to Blue Cross says such a transfer of operations will actually cost state tax payers $154 million, undercutting the chief claim of the Jindal administration that privatizing operations of OGB will be a money saver.
In a press release issued Thursday morning, Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, provides the 2013-2014 budget request from OGB to Jindal’s office — a routine request state agencies must make to justify their spending. The four attached documents (reproduced below) demonstrate, according to Jackson, that privatizing the health plan’s operations, is fiscally irresponsible:
Attachment A: Reflects a request for an overall increase for approximately $264,696,853.00 (Line 24) for OGB. This figure has not been explained and therefore, the purpose of the above increase can not be determined nor calculated.
Attachment B: Reflects a decrease by $24,006,450.00 in OGB’s administrative costs and other expenses (Lines 5, 10, 11, 15, and 20).
Attachment C: Reflects an increase of $739,978,762.00 in administrative fee payments to Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Attachment D: Reflects a decrease by $557,670,900.00 in the PPO claims payments and $3,500,000.00 to United Behavioral Health for disease management (Lines 22 and 27 respectively).
Deducting all of the “savings” represented by the decrease in dollar amounts for OGB administrative costs and other expenses ($24,006,450.00); OGB PPO claims payments ($557,670,900.00); and United Behavioral Health payments ($3,500,000.00), from the amount requested to be paid to Blue Cross Blue Shield ($739,978,762.00) shows that there is a net amount of $154,801,412.00 being paid to BCBS without explanation.
This deal will cost the state an additional $154,801,412.00.
“It is not sound fiscal policy to pay more for services while laying off 177 individuals. These documents prove that we are not saving the state any money. We are, in fact, actually requiring the state to pay more,” Jackson concludes.
Last week, appearing before a joint House-Senate committee, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, seeing that House members would not go along, withdrew the administration’s plan to turn the remaining 62,000 state policies over to Blue Cross. (Blue Cross already administers 164,00 policies in OGB’s HMO plan.) Some Republican House members who were not supportive of the plan were also stripped of key committee assignments in keeping with Jindal’s heavy-handed MO.
According to Gannett’s Mike Hasten, JindalCo. hopes to bring the issue up again on Friday, although Rep. Jackson is challenging the timing of the meeting.
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DEC 6 Here we are, at the top of another bad list: this time, Louisiana has the (dubious) honor of beating out all other states when it comes to gutting higher ed funding, this Picayune story reports. The American Association of Colleges and Universities says our cuts (nearly 18 percent this year alone) are the highest in the nation. Three-fourths of the states increased funding last year, with the top spender increasing funding by 28 percent. This is a great legacy for our governor, right?
DEC 6 Blogger Lamar White Jr. takes a look at the creepy effort over in Baton Rouge, wherein the southern, lily-white area of the city wants to secede from the union, er, create its own "city" and take all the really fat sales tax cows with it. Turns out the group campaigning for the move is a for-profit corporation, and Lamar says that means its effort won't pass legal muster.
DEC 6 Blogger Tom Aswell tells us about some fishiness he found in the state worker's comp office. There's some confusion about when one guy started working there, and there's also some involvement by a GOP lege from Hammond. It's all just another example of the Jindal administration's actions that "defy explanation," Aswell says.
DEC 6 Edwin Edwards may think it's possible he will be governor again, but columnist James Gill isn't so sure. Edwards would have to get a presidential pardon to run for governor -- unless he wants to wait until he's 99, Gill says. But even Edwards' many supporters should probably hope he doesn't get that, because there's no real chance he can win, Gill says.
DEC 6 Here's an interesting post on DIG Magazine for football history buffs. It's about the Pelican Bowl, the Bayou Classic and the history of black college football. It's a trip down memory lane and the story of a "mythical black college national crown." What killed it? Trying to compete with the Bayou Classic.
DEC 6 Nelson Mandela became famous while sitting in prison, where he was a symbol of apartheid. But his enduring legacy was his ability to forgive, to reach out a hand of peace to heal his country of division and oppression, and the Picayune talks about this aspect of his personality. The story also reminds us of the more light-hearted moments Louisiana shared with the former President of South Africa.
DEC 6 We've all been passed by a nut on the highway and assumed the driver was on drugs. Maybe that's not hyperbole: here's a story from the Picayune about a guy riding around with a meth lab in his back seat. One wonders if his insurance policy included coverage for random explosions.
DEC 6 Here's a new blog in the NOLA Defender; it's called Shift Change, and it's all about cocktails. This installment by Rhiannon Enlil focuses on the sazerac, the enigmatic cocktail made with absinthe. But Enlil also introduces herself, a long-time NOLA bartender who has "a lot of booze" in her house.
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