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LSU system charges of others' bias appears hypocritical

A favorite tactic of those losing an argument is to try to impugn the proponents of the prevailing side. Academicians properly trained particularly try to refute opposing views by pointing to problems of data, research method, and logic in interpretation. Thus, it is sad to see the top academic official in Louisiana’s most prestigious university system trying to discredit study results by trying to shoot the messenger.

Louisiana State University system President Bill Jenkins had harsh words for a study soon to be released by the Public Affairs Research Council, whose contents remain unknown in detail precisely because PAR is circulating its contents to interested parties before making public a final version. It deals with health care redesign in Louisiana.

This is a highly unusual, pre-emptive step, to make public this discontent before report contents even are known. As such, we can speculate that PAR finds the current indigent health care system in the state, largely overseen by LSU hospitals, to be inferior to redesign arguments to move it away from a money-goes-to-the-institution (used only by Louisiana) to a money-follows-the-person regime because that will produce better overall patient outcomes with money being more efficiently spent.

We don’t know this, but from Jenkins’ criticism, that would be the implication, as Jenkins publicly terms it “inaccurate, incomplete, unrealistic and biased.” Whether so is best left to analyzing the report after its release, but Jenkins destroys the credibility of his statement in advance when he then argues the conclusions are tainted as PAR's research was at least partially funded by private health care providers that, as Jenkins contends, “will profit from dismantling the state's existing health care delivery system.”

Never mind that PAR has strict procedures that guard against such bias being introduced into work, much less that any such bias should be obvious in any issued report thus meaning Jenkins’ criticisms at this time are unnecessary and premature. But most laughable is the kettle-calling-the-pot-black situation here, as LSU and the state are just as easily charged with lack of objectivity on this matter.

Let’s think about this, who is Jenkins employed by? That’s right, the LSU Board of Supervisors who have consistently knocked any change in policy that would take hundreds of millions of dollars out of their pockets and reduce their number of employees by thousands. Let’s face it, by their own definition of who is “unbiased” to study the policy, Jenkins and LSU are hypocrites.

Unfortunately, academia in Louisiana often is seen as overly-politicized, and Jenkins’ (and no doubt therefore the Board’s, his employer’s) remarks and actions in this situation do nothing to suggest otherwise. (As an employee of the LSU system of whom technically Jenkins is my boss, the views expressed here obviously are mine and not those of the LSU system or of my direct employer LSUS … but I wish on the matter of health care redesign we agreed.)

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