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Bush challenges Louisiana to really redesign health care

Pres. George W. Bush mentioned two items in the 2007 State of the Union Address directly impacting recent policy made in Louisiana, one that allows the state to recover from a poor decision already made, the other challenging the state not to make a poor choice with a pending decision.

Bush announced his “Twenty in Ten Goal” imploring the country to cut use of gasoline by 20 percent in the next ten years. Part of this would come by ramping up production of alternative fuels, setting a mandatory standard of the production of 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels.

Naturally, the mandatory standards should be scrapped, letting the market integrate the use of these fuels, but measures that increase ethanol production might save Louisiana from the bad decision made last year mandating the sale of such fuel which could force artificial price increases on motorists using Louisiana roads. Ironically, success here would allow a Republican president to bail out Democrat Gov. Kathleen Blanco and the Democrat-controlled Legislature who imposed this on the state.

In his “Affordable Choices Initiative,” Bush will make available money to states to make more widely available health insurance fro the uninsured. The details of the plan likely will have states create a voucher-like system permitting the greatest amount of patient choice in obtaining insurance.

This runs counter to the blind insistence of many Louisiana state politicians who want to preserve the limping charity hospital system that overall provides worse care with reduced patient choice, which primarily serves to shift resources to the government. Federal officials have made clear repeatedly to state officials that additional monies to bring care to the uninsured are questionable unless health care redesign in Louisiana dramatically minimizes the role of state institutions in providing directly indigent care, and now Bush is putting money where his mouth is on the issue (to quote: “money should follow the person rather than the institution.”)

Thus, the stubbornness of Louisiana politicians which puts government and special interests ahead of people which has driven the state to the bottom of quality-of-life indices hopefully will be breached on the health care redesign issue by successful enactment of this proposal.

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