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Letter distorts truth concerning nursing home largesse

When you’re making over $250,000 a year, you’re going to try to make it appear that policy that benefits members of the organization paying you looks good, even if you have to distort and falsify the truth as Louisiana Nursing Home Association executive director Joe Donchess did recently in a letter to The Advocate about a column of mine.

Part of the piece pointed out the privileged status of nursing homes in Louisiana and how that would impact Medicaid spending in light of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ declaration to expand Medicaid. It noted:

A constitutional amendment passed in 2014, for which Edwards voted as a legislator, exacerbates the looming crisis. That change essentially locked in the reimbursement rate for privately-operated nursing homes, adjustable upwards by inflation, despite Louisiana’s institutions having among the lowest occupancy rates of the states. Worse, the formula used pushed up the rate artificially by including non-Medicaid patients and also pays operators over $15 million annually for empty beds due to over-capacity ….


Edwards includes needless tax hikes in deficit plan

Almost three years ago he railed against a plan that would have given Louisiana in the aggregate the highest sales tax in the country. During his run for governor, he said he would not raise taxes and decried the use of “one-time” money to balance budgets. Yesterday, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, eight days into office, declared he wanted to do all of the above to address this fiscal year's predicted budget deficit.

Of course, Edwards disclaimed all responsibility for the about-face in his economic policy, alleging that he had not known of the mounting difficulties with the fiscal year 2016 budget, which his administration now asserts to be $750 million in the red. Never mind that as a legislator Edwards had access to all of this information, which comes to the Legislature on a monthly basis, that should not have made for any surprise of an escalating deficit and leaving plenty of time to start planning.

Naturally, as part of that he indicated the real responsibility for this lay with his predecessor former Gov. Bobby Jindal. He contended that Jindal’s budgeting tactics – which he ratified five out of eight times as a legislator – brought matters to this head, implying he bore no blame for whatever he suggested. He then laid out a plan that, at the very least by its verisimilitude to Jindal’s budgeting, makes them kissing cousins.


Unserious fiscal paper puts agenda before value

Just as inevitably the first couple of transition team reports for Gov. John Bel Edwards looked to lead the coming bunch in sensibility, when it showed up the one concerning fiscal matters kept its promise as the least serious of all to come.

You know when a document thanks several organizations and individuals for expertise in its report and singles out by name, among the government agencies and interest groups and academicians, the rancher, mega-landowner and royalty recipient, and insurance agent Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, that the proposal has diluted its gravity with politics and ideology. Campbell, who has no expertise in economics or fiscal matters but who led the group as a co-chairman, likely got the mention because of his herpetic pushing over the decades of the tired and discredited notion of an oil processing tax to replace the severance tax that therefore naturally had to find its way into the document.

The facile populist belief behind it maintains that some alleged surplus profits of oil companies plus the 98.5 percent of the country that resides outside of the state would pay for it, forgetting that state concerns consume a much higher proportion – at least 28 percent – of the processing maximum and that the tax gets passed along to consumers. That such a measure would go into effect in era with low worldwide prices putting on the ropes the industry in Louisiana and, as a result of the soft market, excess refining capacity brimming outside the state makes it not just a stupid idea, but absurdly so.


Preposterous Obamacare speculation flees reality

Sometimes the media go with a story just so far detached from reality, one must marvel at their obliviousness. Louisiana readers received one such treat last week after Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards unwisely decided to expand Medicaid.

Just after that happened, Pres. Barack Obama visited the state and there proclaimed that he would authorize the period in which the federal government picks up all reimbursement costs of expansion (Louisiana still will have to fork over several million dollars extra the first half of the next fiscal year to cover administrative costs) to the first three years of it for a state, not in the 2014-2016 period as the law reads. As it currently stands, Louisiana would receive total reimbursement for care costs only during the first six months of its next fiscal year.

Keep in mind that Obama typically operates in a dictatorial mode whenever Congress insists on following the Constitution in its power to make law by refusing to pass Obama’s requests; he responds by issuing extra-constitutional executive orders and signing statements to attempt to bypass the rules by which this representative democracy exists, so he has gotten into the habit of saying he will make things happen that constitutionally he cannot. The fact is, he can promise only to put this idea into the budget for the Republican-led Congress to do with it whatever it sees fit.