Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Back to drawing board on privatization; State improves its treatment of mentally ill inmates; Unemployed suffer as benefits shrink; and Today in Common Core: Audit report tries to set the record straight

Back to drawing board on privatization
Six of the nine hospital privatization deals hastily crafted by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration amid a financial shortfall in 2012 are now back on the drawing board, Marsha Shuler reports in The Advocate. Gone from the deals are guarantees that “partner” hospitals will be paid more than other hospitals for treating the uninsured. But state officials said the hospitals will continue to be paid more; it just won’t be spelled out in a contract.

“This is really a model of trusting each other,” said Kathy Kliebert, secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals.

The renegotiation is merely the latest snag in an effort that has drawn multiple rounds of federal scrutiny, largely due to the state’s decision to plug a Medicaid shortfall with up-front lease payments from the partner hospitals.


State improves its treatment of mentally ill inmates

Louisiana has made substantial progress in ensuring that inmates with diagnosed mental disorders are transferred to a state psychiatric facility instead of languishing in jail without treatment. The Advocate reports that a federal consent decree, in place since 2011, could be lifted as early as Wednesday. The Advocacy Center, whose suit led to the consent decree in which the state agreed to provide monthly reports on inmate waiting times, has filed court papers indicating it won’t oppose lifting the order.

“Even as the state is coming out from under the consent decree, however,a new class-action lawsuit is pending in federal court in Baton Rouge that claims the state is taking far too long to transfer inmates to Feliciana who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity. That lawsuit, filed last month by the Advocacy Center and the MacArthur Justice Center in New Orleans, alleges there are “scores of individuals throughout the state of Louisiana who have been or will be found (not guilty by reason of insanity) and committed to a mental health facility, but who remain or will remain incarcerated in a parish jail, often for months at a time.”


Unemployed suffer as benefits shrink

While the economy continues its tepid recovery, millions of Americans remain shut out from the workforce. And for many of them, life is tougher than it has been in several generations thanks to federal policies, The New York Times’ Paul Krugman writes.

“Only 26 percent of jobless Americans are receiving any kind of unemployment benefit, the lowest level in many decades. The total value of unemployment benefits is less than 0.25 percent of G.D.P., half what it was in 2003, when the unemployment rate was roughly the same as it is now. It’s not hyperbole to say that America has abandoned its out-of-work citizens.Strange to say, this outbreak of anti-compassionate conservatism hasn’t produced a job surge. In fact, the whole proposition that cruelty is the key to prosperity hasn’t been faring too well lately. Last week Nathan Deal, the Republican governor of Georgia, complained that many states with Republican governors have seen a rise in unemployment and suggested that the feds were cooking the books. But maybe the right’s preferred policies don’t work?”


Today in Common Core: Audit report tries to set the record straight

The Legislative Auditor is out with a new report this morning that looks at the Common Core debate, and reports that it directly contradicts Gov. Bobby Jindal’s characterization of the state standards as a federalized takeover of curriculum.

“Standards are not the same thing as curricula, textbooks, lesson plans or classroom activities and assignments. Those are the tools by which teachers and students learn; the choice of which materials teachers use continues to be a state and local decision,” according to the auditor’s analysis.


Number of the Day
$655.8 million – Amount of one-time revenue supporting the current-year Medicaid budget, which will need to be replaced next year. (Source: Legislative Fiscal Office)