Jindal says he won't reconsider Medicaid expansion
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday he won't reconsider his refusal to expand Louisiana's Medicaid coverage under the federal health care law, even though a half dozen other Republican governors have agreed to participate.
Jindal said he won't include federal funding for a Medicaid expansion in his state budget proposal for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which will be released to lawmakers Feb. 22.
"No, I'm not changing my mind. No, that money will not be in the executive budget, which we will be presenting next week," the Louisiana governor said in a rare media availability with local reporters.
Estimates are that as many as 400,000 Louisiana residents could be eligible for Medicaid if the state chose to expand the government-run health insurance program, with the federal government paying most of the costs.
Jindal is being urged by health care organizations, advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers to reverse his opposition to the Medicaid expansion and to take the available federal funding to offer health insurance to low-income families.
Meanwhile, a growing number of Republican governors are opting into parts of the health care overhaul now that the presidential election is over and the law seems certain to stay intact. Six GOP governors have proposed expanding their Medicaid programs to cover more low-income residents, and a dozen others haven't announced their decisions.
But Jindal, considered a potential White House contender in 2016, continues to fiercely resist the health care revamp. He's also refused to create a state-run health insurance market as provided by the law, instead leaving it to the federal government to run Louisiana's health insurance exchange.
He said he disagrees with the growth of the federal government health care program, saying that insurance is better handled by private companies and that states should be free to design health programs that suit their individual needs.
"Medicaid is an outdated program. I certainly think we should be working to expand coverage for those that lack access to health care, but I don't think putting everybody in a one-size-fits-all program's the best way to do that," Jindal said Thursday.
He also calls the expansion too costly and questions whether Congress will continue to cover the bulk of the price tag long-term.
More than 40 nonprofits, advocacy organizations and other groups sent a letter to Jindal last week, asking him to reconsider and to agree to expand Medicaid coverage in a state where an estimated 20 percent of residents are uninsured.
The potential Medicaid expansion would cover adults making up to 138 percent of the poverty level — $15,414 for an individual or $30,650 for a family of four, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
The federal government will cover the full costs of the Medicaid expansion from 2014 to 2016 and pick up most of the price tag after that, requiring states to pay up to 10 percent. Kaiser estimates it would cost Louisiana about $1 billion over 10 years to expand the program to cover the additional low-income residents.
As head of the Republican Governors Association, Jindal wrote to the Obama administration asking for a meeting to discuss possible changes to the Medicaid program, seeking more flexibility for states. He said the White House has ignored the request.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.