Jeffrey D. Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University Shreveport. If you're an elected official, political operative or anyone else upset at his views, don't go bothering LSUS or LSU System officials about that because these are his own views solely.
This publishes Sunday through Thursday with the exception of 7 holidays. Also check out his Louisiana Legislature Log especially during legislative sessions (in "Louisiana Politics Blog Roll" below).
Building on yesterday’s
post, can liberal Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards
also become the one who finally frees Louisiana from any vestiges of its
archaic charity hospital system?
Until a few years ago, Louisiana
insisted on continuing its outdated model where anybody could walk into what
then comprised a system of ten hospitals, mostly in urban areas, and receive
free treatment for whatever ailed them, regardless of severity. That system
delivered subpar medicine, in no small part because, as the laws of human
behavior dictate, make something free and people engage in overconsumption of
it. This produced queued care as hospitals became treated like primary care
centers and for any ailment, no matter how minor or even fictional, squeezing
out the more serious cases and promoting wasteful resource use.
Unfortunately, way too many
policy-makers preferred this inefficient use of taxpayer dollars because it
provided superior symbolism, if inferior service delivery, of some asserted commitment
to the “poor,” and also because this could act as a patronage sink and job
machine that politicians in these areas could crow about to secure reelection.
So it took another misfortune, Congressional
repeal of a law that favored Louisiana’s Medicaid funding (ironically
because of the economic bump resulting from the heavy influx of federal aid
from the hurricane disasters of 2005) to shock them out of their complacency,
and former Gov. Bobby
Jindal wisely used this leverage to exit halfway the system.
Is liberal Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards the
guy conservatives have been waiting for, at least as far as reform of the
Taylor Opportunity Programs for Students?
week, the Edwards Administration announced that for fiscal year 2017
Edwards would budget the program that pays full tuition for students with
mediocre-and-above credentials at only about 20 percent of its predicted demand,
using only funding dedicated to it. It forecast that would mean that instead of
an American College Test score of 20 to qualify, the standard would go as high
as 28. This would occur unless a combination of cuts elsewhere and tax hikes
freed up money, with the more pledged the lower the ACT cutoff score until it
reached the legal minimum of 21.
To which those who care about
efficient use of taxpayer dollars and rewarding quality should respond, “Please,
can we?” TOPS, with its four-ninths
dropout rate as a consequence of allowing marginal achievers to capture free
tuition to attend a state university (guaranteed admission as the TOPS
standards exceed entrance requirements for most state universities), acts much
more like an entitlement program than a true scholarship program and thereby
carries the same ills: it discourages more than marginal achievement, 40
percent or more of it gets wasted, and it forces taxpayers to subsidize a number
of indifferent students who might better serve society and themselves through
not attempting collegiate work. Even worse, unlike most entitlement programs,
its façade of merit standards – so low they hardly meet the definition – ends up
having taxpayers subsidize higher-income families, who defend it by saying they
pay enough in taxes and ought to have at least one program that directly
His strategy of no pain, no gain –
in other words, he cannot gain expansion of government without dishing out as
much pain as possible to frighten people and their representatives into tax
increases to fund a bigger state – calls for some roughly standstill spending
for some parts of government and bigger drops in others, with the notable
exception of a huge increase in health spending, most notably on Medicaid given
his decision to expand it.