Louisiana health care system headed to the emergency room.
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Louisiana Health Care Systems Getting Sicker

Friends,

In the past, we've used this space to chronicle the continued failings of the Jindal Administration's massive health care experimentation in order to highlight the ongoing injustices leveled upon the citizens of Louisiana. The Governor's insistence on imposing policy rooted in ideological box-checking instead of rigorous pragmatism is predictably causing profound failures in many facets of our health care. In short, our health care systems are getting sicker. 
 
More galling is the Administration's inability to comport itself honestly with citizens. The recent audit of the Administration's privatization of the Medicaid system, Bayou Health, is the latest example of this disingenuous behavior. The Legislative Auditors found the DHH report “has comments, numbers you cannot rely on,” and "the report has math errors and makes unsubstantiated claims." The audit also says that the Department of Health and Hospitals had basically asked is contractors, "how are you guys doing saving money?" to which the state contractors, under contract to save money, said, "we're doing great!"

This is not accountability. This is irresponsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars

In response to Legislative inquiries around the time of the passage of this program in 2012, the Administration was forced to produce this "report card" of the privatization effort. At the time, the reasoning (as it always is) for ending state-run Medicaid systems was to "save money" through the reprogramming of the provision of care. As background, it is very important to understand that Medicaid is one of the most efficient Government programs (with Administrative costs, i.e. the costs to run the program and provide services, at around 7% - much lower than private health care systems). It begs the question, why was this effort undertaken in the first place?

Another health system floundering under the Jindal Administration's mismanagement is the "Office of Group Benefits" (OGB). This agency runs the health insurance for thousands of state workers throughout Louisiana. OGB was one of the most efficient parts of Louisiana government, earning taxpayers a surplus of $500m to shield exposure against downturns or unexpected health costs. Unlike many public pensions and health care systems, OGB was successfully limiting taxpayers from any exorbitant costs. This made the agency a ripe target of an irresponsible administration focused on gimmicks to balance a broken budget. In 2011, after contracting Goldman Sachs to do an analysis of the system for a cool $6mthe Jindal Admin schemed to privatize the office. When the manager in charge of OGB refused to go along with the scheme, he was promptly fired.

Now privatized under the Jindal Administration's plan, OGB is quickly going broke. The reserve funds were swept into the budget to help pay for other irresponsibility (another reason I voted against the budget the last two years). On the hook? Thousands of state employees who will now see their health costs soar

The larger, more complex, Charity Hospital privatizations are also in trouble. We've focused on this in the past, but this week brings another troubling story to the front. According to the Advocate, LSU is now renegotiating contracts with private providers in light of their fear that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare will reject the funding formulas on which the deals are based on. As you may remember, the Administration produced the original contracts with dozens of blank pages in order to speed the experiments forward

All of these ongoing crises, to say nothing of the continued corruption probe into the Department of Health and Hospitals and former Secretary Bruce Greenstein, are the image of a health care experiment going horribly wrong. These problems will no doubt persist long after Governor Jindal has packed his bags permanently for Iowa. They are slow-motion disasters that will cost Louisianians for years to come. And our health care systems look sure to get sicker, costing us all.

Sadly, the Governor isn't the only threat to Louisianians health. They're also getting a bad prescription from US Senate candidate Congressman Bill Cassidy. Congressman Cassidy touts his record as a Doctor, but like Governor Jindal, he wishes to launch a grand experiment on Medicare, ending it as we know it and turning it into a voucher program while raising the retirement age. Like Governor Jindal, Congressman Cassidy has a radical ideology that he would like to force down the American peoples' throats. If you think the experiment failed in Louisiana, wait until it spreads across the country.

Sincerely,

Karen
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