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Dardenne forces questionable drug deal onto LA

When Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne gave Louisiana's Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget a Boy Scout salute, but with his index and ring fingers curled down, it launched a series of events still unresolved that has thrown health care of many state employees and retirees into turmoil starting earlier this week, as well as potentially wasting state tax dollars.

Last fall, the JLCB considered awarding a pharmacy benefits manager contract to Caremark PCSHealth, continuing a tortuous journey now extending almost three years. In spring, 2020 the state solicited bids for this service provision, the largest by dollars in the state, for its Office of Group Benefits that oversees employment benefits for most state employees and retirees and their families, as well as many public school teachers and retirees and families or nearly 200,000 affected plan members. Five PBMs contested it, with Caremark, whose parent also owns the CVS Pharmacy chain and mail order businesses, winning out.

Legal challenges ensued, and the matter was put on hold. In the meantime, the state issued some short-term contracts that spent just under $500 million a shot although the maximum allowed was just over $600 million. Litigation wasn’t initially resolved until last summer, two years after, that confirmed Caremark had won the contract within the confines of the law.


Some issues will make or break Arceneaux

Only a few days into his administration, Republican Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux faces four paramount issues that if he can resolve satisfactorily even just a couple will give him a tremendous leg up in an uphill battle for reelection.

As a white Republican helming a city with a plurality of black Democrats in the electorate, Arceneaux won in part because of frustration that several looming problems seemed unaddressed. They’re substantial, yet because of that success in dealing with them could win him great credit among an electorate inclined to give the greatest support to candidates of a different skin color and party and allow him to double his time in office.

From least to most problematic:


Data show how bad policy makes people flee LA

Another year, another indicator of how Louisiana keeps bad company among flailing states – but also coming with clues on how to reverse that.

The Census Bureau released its annual end-of-year report on population changes in the states. In percentage terms, Louisiana fared third worst at barely under 0.8 percent population loss, continuing a trend throughout the governorship of Democrat John Bel Edwards as being one of the highest ranked losers annually in out-migration to other states.

Joining the state in the top ten losers were New York and Illinois ahead, with West Virginia, Hawai’i, Oregon, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Oregon behind. By contrast, in order the top ten gaining states were Florida, Idaho, South Carolina, Texas, South Dakota, Montana, Delaware, Arizona, North Carolina, and Utah.


GOP incumbent, newcomer to battle for HD 9

In this fall’s elections a reconstituted state House District 9 looks to draw a challenger in a decidedly uphill intraparty battle.

At the end of the year, businessman Chris Turner sent Christmas greetings to households with zip codes in the district, with part of that indicating his candidacy. That distribution would seem guaranteed to require campaign finance disclosure due to the assumed expense, which would have to occur before the middle of February and give more details about his campaign.

Turner currently is registered as a Republican. He spent decades in the military and law enforcement, mostly and most recently working for the U.S. Marshals service before retiring last year to open a combination liquor store and specialty meat market.