Monday, Oct. 21

Monday, Oct. 21

Charity hospital system no substitute for private insurance; Louisiana colleges falling behind on maintenance; AP: Pay raises uneven across the state; Louisiana may take flood insurance issue into its own hands; and Opinion: Gov. Jindal should put people ahead of politics. $1.8 billion – Backlog of deferred maintenance in Louisiana’s public colleges and universities. (Source: The Advocate)

Charity hospital system no substitute for private insurance
Gov. Bobby Jindal has turned down federal money to help low-income Louisianans buy private health insurance, instead doubling down on the charity hospital system. However, as LBP points out in a new blog entry, the governor’s own health department understands that episodic care through a safety-net system is no substitute for actual health coverage. “[T]he reality is that these safety-net hospitals only care for the uninsured after they are already sick, where individual coverage empowers people to obtain the preventive care that can improve their health in the long-run.”

Louisiana colleges falling behind on maintenance
When state budgets fall on hard times, one of the first things that usually get cut is money for routine maintenance to state buildings. And when budget shortfalls become chronic, the result is a $1.8 billion backlog of repairs at Louisiana’s public colleges and universities. The Advocate’s Koran Addo notes that the Legislature added $76 million to the construction budget, which was subsequently excised by Gov. Bobby Jindal and replaced by $10 million in cash for each of the four college systems. A new $48 per student fee authorized by the Legislature also will help chip away at the backlog. Meanwhile, the shoddy upkeep of Grambling State University’s football complex was one reason players in the storied program refused to travel to Jackson State University for Saturday’s scheduled game.

AP: Pay raises uneven across the state
Most state workers have gone several years without a pay raise, as Louisiana struggled through years of lean budgets. That is changing this year – but only for some, as agencies had to find the money for raises within their existing budgets. This is “creating a system of haves and have-nots where pay raises aren’t dictated by performance standards but where a person works,” according to the Associated Press. “For example, an employee in the Department of Health and Hospitals evaluated as high-performing isn’t getting a pay raise, while a worker at the Department of Environmental Quality who received the same type of review received a 4 percent salary boost. Did one work harder than another? No, it’s just that DHH has had larger, repeated budget struggles and is more vulnerable to slashing than DEQ, which relies more heavily on dedicated sources of funding that are shielded from budget cuts.”

Louisiana may take flood insurance issue into its own hands
The Louisiana Senate and House Insurance committees are meeting Wednesday in an attempt to stave off potential 4,000 percent increases in flood insurance across the state. “With so many changes and rate increases impacting not only our coastal residents, but our entire state, and with no definite fix at this time in D.C., it is time that we discuss what can be done on a state and local level,” Senate Insurance Committee Chairman Dan “Blade” Morrish said. “I don’t know that we have any fix but people may come up with ideas that are worthy of discussion.”

Opinion: Gov. Jindal should put people ahead of politics
The benefits of accepting federal dollars to help low-income Louisianans buy private health insurance are clear, including better health outcomes, savings in the state budget and savings for the state’s small businesses. “And yet Gov. Jindal continues to reject the federal money that could help make them healthier and ease their financial burdens. He has provided various excuses, but it’s hard to believe the rejection is anything but a political calculation,”  Nola.com notes in its lead Sunday editorial. “What a shame if the governor’s ambitions were to trump his own people’s needs.”

$1.8 billion – Backlog of deferred maintenance in Louisiana’s public colleges and universities. (Source: The Advocate)