Medicaid’s most important impact: peace of mind
Sharon Mills, 54, suffered renal failure last year after having irregular access to medication to treat her diabetes. Prior to the renal failure, she survived by scrounging free samples from doctors’ offices, signing up for drug company discounts and asked for money from her church, parents and friends. So when she was afforded the chance to sign up for Medicaid this month, Ms. Mills told The New York Times that she could breath again for the first time in years. Ms. Mills lives in West Virginia, a state that opted to provide more than 75,000 residents with health insurance by expanding Medicaid eligibility. While this hasn’t solved all medical problems, one of the most immediate impacts has been peace of mind for people like Ms. Mills — who used her Medicaid number for the first time to fill a prescription. Almost 250,000 uninsured Louisianans could experience the same feeling if Gov. Jindal opted to expand Medicaid in Louisiana. Expansion would also bring as much as $15.8 billion in new federal health care revenues to Louisiana over the next decade, creating an estimated 15,600 jobs.
Jindal says he would consider legalizing medical marijuana
Jindal spokesperson Kyle Plotkin announced Wednesday that the governor would consider legalizing medical marijuana use Louisiana, as long as patients were under close doctor supervision and the drug’s distribution was tightly controlled. As Nola.com reports, In Louisiana, doctors are legally able to write prescriptions for medical marijuana use in certain cases already, but there are no places available to legally purchase the drug. If lawmakers wanted to make medical marijuana viable in the state, they would have to tweak a current state statute and provide the state pharmacy board with guidance on regulating dispensaries. The state legislature would also have to determine whether pharmacies could carry the drug or if separate dispensaries must be used.
40,000 state workers could get first pay raise in several years
After the Jindal administration suspended employee pay raises in state fiscal year 2010-11 and fiscal year 2011-12, nearly 40,000 state employees could get a pay raise on July 1. Gov. Jindal announced he will include more than $60 million in his budget proposal Friday to fund a 4 percent raise that may be given annually based on job performance. Nearly half of state employees received a pay raise on Oct. 1 because their agencies covered the costs on their own. The remaining rank-and-file state government workers who did not get pay raises due to lack of funding were employed by the state health agency, natural resources and corrections.
Hospital privatization deals still not approved by federal government
Louisiana has turned over management of its charity hospital system to private companies, but still does not have the all-clear from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The state needs federal approval in order to use Medicaid and Medicare dollars to finance the deals. Only one of the deals had been approved by the feds so far — closing Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge and transferring its inpatient services to Our Lady of the Lake. State officials say they are confident approval will come, while federal officials have remained silent on the issue.
LBP hosts free screening of “Inequality for All,” featuring Rob Reich
LBP invites you to attend a free screening of the film “Inequality for All” on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the Baton Rouge Kress Gallery (447 3rd St., Baton Rouge). The film (you can view the trailer here) is narrated by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and discusses how the massive consolidation of wealth by a few has a devastating impact on our economy and on the foundation of American democracy itself. With the 2014 legislative session fast approaching, this is a unique opportunity to discuss solutions to one of the most pressing issues of our time. Light refreshments will be served at 5 p.m., and the film will start promptly at 5:30 p.m., followed by a post-screening Q&A. Seating is limited and available on a first come first serve basis. Please RSVP here so we can provide an adequate amount of refreshments. Note that an RSVP does not ensure a seat at the event.