Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

“Citizens lose, lobbyists win” on payday loans; The Lens concludes “Fiscal Hawks” have lost the battle over one-time money; Louisiana hospitals are below-average for patient safety; and Company that built website gets state incentives. 31 – Number of states, not including Louisiana, that require hospitals to publicly report hospital-acquired infections. (Source:

“Citizens lose, lobbyists win” on payday loans
The effort to rein in predatory payday lending was dealt a potentially fatal blow Tuesday when the Senate struck down a compromise bill that would have limited borrowers to 10 high-interest loans in a 12-month period. Although senators voted 20-17 on SB 84 by Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, the bill needed a 26-vote supermajority to pass after a parliamentary ruling by Senate President John Alario, who said the bill included a new “fee” on payday lenders.

“The voice of the people was silenced by campaign contributions,” the Rev. Lee Wesley, of Baton Rouge, told The Advocate after the vote. Wesley is a volunteer with Together Louisiana, which joined AARP, the Louisiana Budget Project and others in championing reform. But the payday industry hired more than 40 lobbyists to fight the measure, and ended up prevailing by the narrowest of margins. The key vote came on an amendment offered by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, which sought to remove the fee requirement. Adley’s amendment failed on a tied 18-18 vote, after which senators struck down another amendment that would have imposed a 36 percent rate cap on payday loans.

While the vote struck a severe blow to the chances of significant reform being passed in the current session, the issue is not dead. Nevers can bring his bill back for another vote, and there are several other measures dealing with small-dollar loans that could be amended.

The Lens concludes “Fiscal Hawks” have lost the battle over one-time money
Tyler Bridges of the Lens unpacks the $25.6 billion budget bill that passed the House Appropriations Committee on Monday and asks if the conservative legislators who banded together last year to challenge Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget are still exerting influence. While the “hawks” made some constructive changes to the governor’s budget recommendations, there are plenty of problems that are being pushed into next year and beyond.

So does Monday’s action mean the Fiscal Hawks are flying high again, a year after they finally forced Jindal and legislative leaders to bend their way on the state budget? Perhaps not. It turns out there is one-time money. And then there is one-time money. The $51 million eliminated Monday was determined under a legal definition determined by the Legislature last year at the Fiscal Hawks’ behest. But the budget advanced by the Appropriations Committee to the full House also contains $800 million for which no revenue source exists the following year – meaning the $800 million also could be called one-time money.”

Louisiana hospitals are below-average for patient safety
Your faithful Daily Dime correspondents don’t have the technical expertise to catch every worthy story on, where genuine news sometimes disappears in the hurly-burly stream of high school sports scores and entertainment listings. So we’re late to the website’s excellent reporting on the problems at Children’s Hospital, where five children died of a deadly fungal infection that hospital officials failed to report in a timely manner and may have been preventable had the hospital done a better job of providing clean bed linens, sheets and gowns.

Included in the heartbreaking story of a mother who lost her newborn son to the fungal infection is this disturbing gem:

Louisiana has no laws requiring hospitals to publicly report hospital acquired infections or hospital outbreaks. Some hospitals do self-report select hospital safety data including infections to the CDC’s National Health Care Safety Network as a condition of getting Medicare reimbursement dollars, but Children’s is exempt from doing so because it is a pediatric facility. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring hospitals to report hospital-acquired infection rates.”

All of which brings us to a story in Tuesday’s editions that we did manage to catch: Louisiana hospitals ranks 31st nationally on a patient-safety scorecard. And while some major hospitals — Ochsner Regional Medical Center in Kenner and Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Baton Rouge, to name two – fared very well, don’t look for any safety data on Children’s, which was recently awarded a 40-year lease to operate the $1.1 billion teaching hospital being built with taxpayer dollars in lower Mid-City. They were not included in the study.

Company that built website gets state incentives
The Canadian company that built the troubled website is bringing 400 new jobs to Lafayette and soaking up state and local incentives that could be worth more than $20 million, according to one estimate.

Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said the state’s decision to recruit CGI Federal to anchor a new technology center had nothing to do with the company’s bungled stewardship of the Obamacare website. The company’s ties to the Affordable Care Act, which is providing health coverage to more than 8 million previously uninsured Americans, receives no mention in the governor’s press release announcing the new jobs.

31 – Number of states, not including Louisiana, that require hospitals to publicly report hospital-acquired infections. (Source: