The ripple effects of closing hospitals

The ripple effects of closing hospitals

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux joined local leaders and hospital officials in a press conference on Thursday to discuss the effects that the pending state budget cuts would have on the local community.

Number of the Day

78.1 percent- Louisiana’s high school graduation rate for 2017, the state’s highest ever.  (Source: The Advocate)

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux joined local leaders and hospital officials in a press conference on Thursday to discuss the effects that the pending state budget cuts would have on the local community. The cuts threaten to close Lafayette General Health hospital, which would substantially decrease access to health care and have a economic ripple effects across the region.  Leigh Guidry of The Advertiser reports:

First, you pull the block for funding for charity hospitals, like Lafayette General Health, that operate through a partnership between the state and private entities. The tower stays, for now. Next, you pull a block for 800 direct jobs at University Hospital and Clinics, which can’t stay open past June 30 without that funding from the state. Plus, there are hundreds of indirect jobs that would be impact, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. “UHC provides incredible services and a lot of jobs,” Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux said. “It’s about more than health care. It’s the economy.” Out comes the block representing the economic impact of those employees and their families as they move for new jobs or stay and drive up unemployment. The loss of those wages is a $73 million impact, said Troy Wayman, president and CEO of OneAcadiana, quoting data from the Lafayette Economic Development Association.

House Republicans contend that this and the 37,000 nursing home notices are scare tactics from the Governor’s Office. Stephanie Grace of The Advocate challenges that notion and reminds readers how we end up in this situation.

The latest dust-up is just one more instance of the lawmakers carrying out a political fight over taxing and spending as lives and futures hang in the balance. TOPS students don’t know whether their full awards will materialize, even as they’re making plans for the fall. The state’s safety net hospitals don’t know if they’ll have to enact mass layoffs, walk away from their contracts with the state or perhaps even shut down. And the 37,000 people who are getting those warning letters certainly can’t count on lawmakers coming up with a solution. Not given how many chances have come and gone in the two years since they enacted the temporary taxes that are set to expire in less than two months, and not given how far apart House leaders and the Edwards administration still appear to be.

Senate President John Alario and Edwards agree that the Legislature should adjourn the regular session early and move forward a second special session, but it’s not clear if House Speaker Taylor Barras is on board. Nola.com/Times Picayune’s editorial board calls out the House leader and members – saying they’ve failed to consider the human impacts of their budget decisions:

The House has sped up the pace of its work, which is a sign that it could finish early. Still, the speaker won’t say for sure. Rep. Barras, an accountant and banker, is getting his per diem. He’s not at risk of a life-altering loss of services like Nelda Watson and Ashley Volion are. He’s apparently fine with letting Louisiana residents fret about what the Legislature might do to upend their lives. He’s got plenty of company in the Republican-dominated House. Fifty-five members voted for the bare bones budget that would eliminate Medicaid services for tens of thousands of residents, decimate funding for hospitals and medical training and reduce TOPS scholarships by 20 percent. They clearly don’t care about making people anxious.

 

Budget cuts threaten mental health services
The House-passed state budget includes a reduction of nearly $50 million in state and federal funding for mental health services – a significant cut that hasn’t received nearly as much attention as the proposed reductions to nursing homes and hospitals. Nola.com/Times Picayune’s Katherine Sayre:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness in New Orleans serves between 500 and 650 people in outpatient programs up for elimination, said Lisa Romback, the group’s executive director. If the cuts go through, her group would have to discharge all of its Medicaid clients and lay off between 25 and 35 people, out of a staff of about 70. Meanwhile, Volunteers of America expects 1,900 people statewide would lose mental health services it provides, and the organization would have to cut 545 jobs, about 40 percent of its staff. Advocates are asking the Legislature to call a special session to restore funding for what they see as critical services. The loss of treatment would have a ripple effect, forcing people to become even more sick and show up in emergency rooms or jails — a costlier outcome, they argue.

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to meet today to discuss changes to the House-passed budget. You can watch the hearing by clicking here.

 

Bill to restore voting rights advances
On Thursday the House passed House Bill 265 by Rep. Patricia Smith, which will restore the voting rights of those who have served a felony sentence and completed five years of probation and parole. After years of trying and two unsuccessful attempts to win House approval this session, the lower chamber finally agreed to pass the measure by a vote of 61-39. The bill will now head to the Senate, where it is scheduled to be heard as early as Monday. The AP’s Melinda Deslatte reports:

Louisiana’s 1974 constitution allows suspension of voting rights for people who are “under an order of imprisonment” for a felony. A law passed two years later spelled out that people on probation or parole for a felony are included in that definition, leaving some people unable to ever receive the ability to vote again after incarceration. Smith’s proposal would allow someone on probation or parole for a felony to register to vote after being out of prison for five years. If passed by the Senate, the change would take effect on March 1, 2019.More than 70,000 Louisiana residents are on probation or parole for felony crimes. It’s unclear how many would meet the criteria under Smith’s bill.

 

Number of the Day
78.1 percent– Louisiana’s high school graduation rate for 2017, the state’s highest ever.  (Source: The Advocate)