Search This Blog

18.9.14

Report shows proper way for LA to expand coverage

With little fanfare, earlier this month Louisiana released its plan to have health care insurance provided to all citizens. With even less fanfare, the state’s media ignored it because it did not fit their preferred narrative of bigger, more redistributive government.



The report only got mentioned as an aside this week in the New Orleans Times-Picayune – which until then never even acknowledged the existence of the law or the bill that became it despite its potential far-reaching impact because editorially the newspaper supports the alternative of Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) – in an article that in part continues that outlet’s campaign to expand Medicaid. The law required the Department of Health and Hospitals to issue a report about what policies had to be enacted at all levels of government in order to expand insurance to all citizens using market-based rather than government- and politically-based principles.



DHH already has issued two reports explicating why Medicaid expansion is inferior and undesirable policy. Rigorous methodology showed that, under four different scenarios with differing assumptions, within a decade the state would be paying hundreds of millions of dollars more annually for care under expansion than under the current uncompensated care system. In addition, but not covered by these reports, are the results from academic research known as the “Oregon Experiment” that demonstrated people eligible for Medicaid but without health insurance have no worse and even better health outcomes than those utilizing Medicaid, and follow-ups that noted even when the previously uninsured begin using Medicaid they continued to utilize emergency room services for their primary care at significantly higher rates than the population – disproving a key Obamacare selling point that primary care would be more efficiently delivered if more of the uninsured were insured by Medicaid or other form of provision.

17.9.14

Landrieu campaign acumen absent on travel issue


Perhaps the only reason some observers cling to the notion that Sen. Mary Landrieu has at least a toss-up chance of retaining her seat, despite polling numbers to her disadvantage, is that she has a reputation, by winning past close elections, of being a good campaigner. One must question that narrative given the way she has handled the burgeoning scandal of her using taxpayer dollars for campaign travel activities.



After the first questionable use of these funds, where a trip that qualifies under Senate rules as requiring at least partial campaign funding she paid for entirely out of taxpayer funding, came to light, she tried to fob it off as a billing error by the vendor, which as it turns out was not possible. When the second publicized incident broke, she then proclaimed a thorough investigation would be done of all past travel.



That’s the recommended strategy if you feel reasonably confident that these are few and far between, because then you know that independent, outside forces will find few, if any. Indeed, even the state Republican Party, politically motivated to scour public records as much as possibly available to find damaging incidents, could find fewer than double-digits worth. Instead, Landrieu and her staff entirely misdiagnosed – whether from sheer ignorance or that she had become so comfortable in violating regulations that any thought in her conscience that she was in the wrong – her level of risk on this, in finding 43 such events.

16.9.14

Landrieu billing antics feed her dishonest image

We now discover just how deep was Sen. Mary Landrieu’s hand into the cookie jar by her self-revelation that over two-fifths of all her air charter travel since 2002 had some portion illegally charged to taxpayers. What’s not new is the inadequacies in her trying to explain it away.



At the very end of the week’s news cycle, four days after Landrieu had said the information would be made public, lawyers contracted by her admitted 43 such erroneous billings had occurred. In each instance, regardless of whether any campaign-related activity had occurred, the entire amount had been billed to taxpayers, as if the staff had no idea of the operative Federal Election Commission and Senate rules. Landrieu shrugged off the incident by saying her campaign account had reimbursed the federal government some $33,000 for this, that it was only “sloppy bookkeeping,” and that procedures were to be changed to prevent this from happening in the future.



Left unaddressed were several embarrassing questions for her:

15.9.14

Glass-housed legislators posturing irresponsibly

If nothing else, emulating Pres. Barack Obama, you can count on Louisiana’s legislators to identify something as a “problem” that they created themselves, then disclaim any responsibility for it, as we see in the instance of needed changes to the benefits system of state employees and retirees (and some school board employees).



In his six years, repeatedly Obama has implemented policies that create or exacerbate a problem and proceeds to blame anybody who did not assist him in that problem’s creation for it. He raised taxes and wildly increased deficit spending to engineer the most simpering economic recovery on record; he made disability payments and unemployment compensation easier to get to bring the country’s workforce participation rate to the lowest in almost 40 years; his health care insurance policies have sent costs escalating without any positive impact on outcomes. And we have the Louisiana Legislature acting much the same as it looks to convene a gripe session over what it did to itself.



This concerns plans of the Office of Group Benefits to restructure benefits provisions for health insurance. While some clients will end up paying less overall, in the aggregate insured persons likely will face increased health care costs – even as their rates are about four percent lower than they were two years ago and their plans provide benefits much in excess of typical policies for rates significantly below that paid in then individual market and often better than in the group market as a whole.

14.9.14

Landrieu debate hypocrisy reveals untrustworthiness

It’s interesting how six years and a comparatively inferior electoral position can change the tune of Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu as she finds out what life’s like being the underdog.



As the electoral environment for Landrieu continues to deteriorate with the clock ticking towards the day of reckoning for her reelection attempt, depressing her chances to succeed in that quest, incumbent Landrieu has gotten increasingly strident in demanding that the race leader, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, engage her in debates. These “debates” aren’t really that, but question-and-answer forums that provide little opportunity for detailed answers but many chances to commit gaffes.



For that reason, front-running candidates minimize their participation in these because they have the most to lose by making a mistake, the exact same reason those behind want more of them. Not surprisingly, Cassidy has committed to just a pair, one to be in Shreveport and broadcast over public television stations, and the other in Baton Rouge to be broadcast over a consortium of commercial television stations. He has turned down other attempted empanels, including one in New Orleans.