Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Candidates discuss commitment to patient choice; Breaking the cycle of poverty; Board of Regents makes big budget request and; Office of Motor Vehicles plan stalled

Candidates discuss commitment to patient choice

Ninety percent of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, instead of going into a nursing home or other institutional setting. Yet, more than 10,000 Louisianans languish on waiting lists for home- and community-based support, even as state dollars go to pay for empty nursing home beds. Politics have created this situation where dollars go to protect favored providers, instead of following the patient. A planned move to a “managed care” model would have broken the logjam and enhanced patient choice, but was squashed at the eleventh hour by Gov. Bobby Jindal in the face of opposition from the nursing home industry (and about $350,000 in bundled contributions to the governor’s presidential campaign). It will fall to the next governor to make a move–or not–on managed long-term care. Marsha Shuler with the Advocate has details:


Edwards favors the idea, which AARP Louisiana and others say could free up money for more home and community based services where there are long waiting lists. Vitter won’t commit to the move, saying more research is needed to see if Jindal’s privatized managed care is working in health care areas where it’s in effect today…

Under privatized “managed care,” the idea is to provide needed services to people at the right time and in the most appropriate and generally less expensive setting. It is private companies obligation to see that happens. The state’s powerful nursing home industry wants to be exempted, fearing loss of patients and the dollars that go with them. Advocates for the elderly and developmentally disabled want them included, hoping that dollars would be shifted to more home and community based services…

“My commitment is to do everything possible so an individual can stay in their home longer if they want to,” said Edwards, a state representative from Amite. “Long-term managed care with a comprehensive model including nursing homes is absolutely my goal.” Edwards said 18 states have adopted long-term managed care programs and 16 of them include nursing homes…Vitter, one of Louisiana’s U.S. senators, said he will commit to “looking at” the long-term care expansion. “But I cannot commit as we speak to necessarily doing that,” he said.


Breaking the cycle of poverty

While SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) can impact children’s ability to move up the economic ladder and break the cycle of poverty, other supports are necessary. That’s according to Urban Institute researcher Caroline Ratcliffe, who testified before a congressional committee Tuesday. Programs that help parents create a more stable environment for their family are critical in helping children thrive.


“It’s work of the parents, but also, we should look at education and training programs, in coordination with child care and other work supports, to help people move up the economic ladder,” she said. It’s also important to make sure people don’t fall back down the ladder…Ratcliffe’s research has shown that a secure environment is incredibly important. Analyzing 40 years’ worth of data, Ratcliffe found that many children cycle in and out of poverty and that 1 in 10 is persistently poor, spending at least half their childhood below the poverty line. Persistently poor children have substantially worse outcomes as adults and growing up in disadvantaged neighborhoods, moving a lot, or having parents with lower educational achievement can further affect poor children’s chances at success. SNAP and other benefits, however, can help stabilize families, priming children to break out of the cycle of poverty.


Board of Regents makes big budget request

The Board of Regents is fed up with cuts to higher education and they’re not being shy about asking for what they need. The Regents’ budget request is for an additional $636 million for Fiscal Year 2016-17 — almost double the amount that was allocated for the current year. Melinda Deslatte of the Associated Press has the story:


The Board of Regents acknowledged Wednesday that the request for the 2016-17 fiscal year was a long-shot when state lawmakers and a new governor will be grappling with deep budget woes. But board members and staff said the hefty increase is what would be needed to meet the state’s workforce expectations, while coping with colleges’ increased costs. “It’s a big request, but we have a large number of jobs to fill,” said Roy O. Martin, chairman of the Board of Regents. Public colleges are receiving $769 million in state financing in the budget year that ends June 30. The Regents board is asking for $1.4 billion in the budget year that begins July 1, saying they need to pour significantly more money into training people for high-demand fields, like computer science, engineering and construction specialties. Regents, which oversees the divvying of state higher education funding, approved the budget request without objection, though some members of the board were reticent about the size of the ask. Leaders of Louisiana’s four public college systems helped develop the proposal, said Barbara Goodson, chief financial adviser for the Regents.


Office of Motor Vehicles plan stalled

The OMV’s attempt to raise $444 million in revenue by collecting what could be decades old fines for potential lapses in insurance coverage is moving slowly. Only $2.2 million has been collected as a result of the mass mailing that went out last week and triggered a huge influx of complaints and inquiries.  The Advocate’s Maya Lau has more:


The mail blast came under criticism last week by drivers and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, who said the move was a “fundamentally unfair” way for the state to collect money on alleged auto insurance expirations, many of which turned out to be mere paperwork glitches for residents who canceled their vehicle insurance after moving out of state or selling their cars. Edmonson said the OMV was simply acting on information provided by insurance companies, adding that Donelon plays a role in ensuring those records are accurate. The OMV was hit with 1,500 calls per day in the immediate aftermath of the mailing, but the queries have died down, Edmonson said. Of the 1.2 million letters sent, 176,412, or 15 percent, were returned because drivers no longer lived at those locations, he said. Edmonson said the reason Louisiana has some of the highest auto insurance rates nationally is because so many of the state’s drivers illegally forgo insurance, putting the burden on those who have coverage.


Number of the Day
90 – Percentage of Louisianans over 45 who want to stay in their homes as long as possible as they age (Source: AARP via the Advocate)