Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The LABI scorecard; State subsidized beauty pageant; Shreveport hospitals fight and; Old and poor in Louisiana

The LABI scorecard

The powerful Louisiana Association of Business and Industry has released its evaluation of the 2015 Legislature, and the trade group for big business is none too pleased. The organization’s top legislative priority – preventing teachers’ unions from collecting dues from its members – died a quick death, and lawmakers finally took a balanced approach to balancing the budget that included modest revenue increases. It was all too much for LABI Chief Stephen Waguespack, who believes the answer to Louisiana’s budget problems is to cut funding for state retirees.


Our state budget problems are not due to a lack of taxpayer dollars. They are due to a maze of lock boxes and dedicated funds that prohibit existing tax dollars from being eligible for higher education and health care. They are due to a lack of will to address the rising entitlement costs that siphon off millions of dollars every year from the classroom. They are due to overlapping and duplicative bureaucracy and overhead that make our government more expensive than critically necessary to be responsive to our residents.


But as the inimitable Jim Beam of the Lake Charles American-Press points out, two words were missing from the organization’s grievance list: Bobby Jindal.


Waguespack and Jay Lapeyre, chairman of LABI, don’t even mention Jindal’s name in their two-page “2015 Legislative Summary.” In fact, they went out of their way to avoid it. Consider, for example, the following quote where they used “policymakers” to avoid using Jindal’s name.  The authors instead said “policymakers regularly opined that ‘big business’ could afford to pay more taxes, frequently using the term ‘corporate welfare…” The reality is that Jindal used the term in his opening address to the legislative session on April 13. Here is what the governor said:  “The truth is, today we have a system of corporate welfare in this state….”


State subsidized beauty pageant

The Miss USA beauty pageant – enjoyed by a record-low audience – won  joyous raves from Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden. But The Advocate’s editorial board isn’t as rapturous, given the fact that city taxpayers ponied up $545,000 to billionaire vulgarian Donald Trump and the state could be on the hook for even more money once pageant executives apply for film tax credits.


The pageant didn’t deliver what it was supposed to, and that should be reflected in what taxpayers here are required to pony up. We hope local and state officials write smaller checks to Trump and Co. Meanwhile, there’s a lesson here for the future. When local and state governments roll out the red carpet for events like this, the contracts governing these incentives need to clearly specify what taxpayers can expect in return.


Shreveport hospitals fight

A major legal battle is brewing in Shreveport, according to LaPolitics’ Jeremy Alford, who has the scoop on a looming antitrust suit suit being filed by the Biomedical Research Foundation and Vantage Health will file an against the Willis -Knighton Health system. The BRF – which has a no-bid deal from the state to operate the old charity hospital in that city – alleges that LSU Health Sciences Center is diverting its most lucrative commercial-pay patients to Willis-Knighton.


Antitrust attorney David Ettinger, who recently won a landmark case in Idaho, will argue that a competitor like Willis-Knighton taking commercial volume — paying customers — away from his client, University Health, when it has a roughly 75 percent market share amounts to antitrust violations. In other words, such a deal with LSU Health Sciences would advance Willis-Knighton’s position as a monopoly, the lawsuit will convey. University Health officials contend the loss of paying patients creates a financial pressure on its Shreveport hospital and weakens the amount of care that can be provided to the indigent population it serves. The court will be asked to review a financial analysis that predicts the cost to the state to be $45 million for additional indigent care should Willis-Knighton receive the Shreveport hospital’s commercial insurance payments.


Old and poor in Louisiana
Being old in Louisiana is no picnic, according to a new Gallup-Healthways survey that ranks Louisiana last for the financial well-being of adults 55 and older and 41st for their overall well-being. The United Health Foundation also has bad news for older Louisianans, placing Louisiana last in the nation for the physical health of seniors. The Baton Rouge Business report has more details on the Gallup survey:


The report compares the overall well-being of older Americans across five categories: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. Although the report says “older Americans score especially high in financial well-being,” that’s not the case in Louisiana, where the state is ranked dead last for financial well-being among those 55 and older. Among the category rankings, Louisiana fared the best for purpose, at No. 13 in the U.S. Other category rankings for the state are: social, No. 25; community, No. 24; and physical, No. 43. The report is based on self-reported data from 114,388 interviews with individuals age 55 and older to capture how they feel about their day-to-day lives. Gallup-Healthways says the report reveals that, nationally, adults 55 and older have higher well-being than the rest of the population across all five categories it included in the overall rankings, and that well-being gets better with age. People 75 and older have even higher well-being than those ages 65 to 74, and they outscore the younger population by a sizable margin.


Editor’s Note: The Daily Dime is taking a summer vacation. We will be back Aug. 3. Thank you for reading.


Number of the Day

$541,777,016 – Amount of “one-time” money in Louisiana’s 2015-16 state budget that will have to be replaced by other sources next year (Source: Legislative Fiscal Office)