Hospital privatization deals may ultimately hurt Louisiana taxpayers
A hospital privatization deal that requires Biomedical Research Foundation to make early lease payments to the LSU Board of Supervisors could be a recipe for future state budget shortfalls. As Elliott Stonecipher writes for The (Monroe) News-Star, … the possible manipulation of certain money transfers — like early payment to the state of leases owed by the new “private” operators — may be used to create the appearance of savings to taxpayers which are not fact. Any such prepayments by, say, BRFHH, necessarily create a budget hole for out-years, even if they might help Jindal to claim on the presidential campaign trail that his hospital op “saved Louisiana taxpayer money.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Bobby Jindal continued his public-relations campaign on Fox News Sunday, reiterating his decision to double-down on a privatized version of the Charity Hospital System instead of using available federal money to help the poor buy secure, portable insurance. “Chris, I think we need to do health care reform from the bottom up,” Jindal responded [to a question from host Chris Wallace]. “We believe we’ve got a better approach.” In addition to being more expensive than expanded coverage, that “better approach” makes it more difficult for the working poor to get crucial preventive care.
Insurance companies refuse to provide number of new enrollees
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, the Louisiana Health Cooperative and Vantage Health Plan all refused to tell a state health panel how many people had signed up for health care coverage through the new federally run exchange. Under questioning, they acknowledged they know how many people have enrolled and paid premiums to their companies, but they wouldn’t share the information. They said enrollee figures were small and gave no explanation for why they wouldn’t provide numbers.
Ballard: It’s a question of priorities
The Advocate’s capital bureau chief, Mark Ballard, uses his Sunday column to skillfully contrast the state’s misplaced capital construction priorities. While it took a football team boycott and an angel benefactor for Grambling State University to get $30,000 for basic upkeep, the state is setting aside $2 million to build a one-of-a-kind home for the archived records of former Gov. Mike Foster. “The situation might lend itself to the ‘Really!?!’ segment of the ‘Weekend News Update’ on ‘Saturday Night Live.’” Ballard writes.
Right-wing blogger Jeff Sadow makes a tortured attempt to defend the archives expense here.
Side note: One reason the state doesn’t have enough money to provide adequate upkeep of its university system and build a shrine to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s political mentor is because we keep investing resources in projects like this.
Kennedy asks state to reclaim $2 million from nonprofits
The Advocate took an in-depth look at the various nonprofit organizations that raked in state taxpayer dollars during the boom years of the mid-2000s, and State Treasurer John Kennedy is pushing Louisiana to reclaim $2 million in grant money given to some of those nonprofits that he says has not been accounted for. But, according to The Advocate: So far, getting the taxpayers’ money back has proven difficult. The investigation trail often is littered with tax liens, disconnected phone numbers and bad addresses. In some cases, Kennedy says, the organizations don’t even respond to his letters.