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Estimating Conference Has First Meeting, 26 Years After Its Creation

S. Lincoln

We often talk about the Revenue Estimating Conference, but did you know that since 1990 the state is supposed to have other estimating conferences for education, criminal justice, health and social services, and for transportation?

That Health and Social Service Estimating Conference actually has never met,” state Senator Sharon Hewitt said, while advocating passage of SB 443 earlier this year. Her bill required the group to form and meet, with a special charge to look ahead at Medicaid cost estimates.

As the Medicaid budget goes, so goes the state’s budget,” Hewitt explained, after noting that one-third of the total State General Fund is spent on health care.

The Medicaid Estimating Conference held their first meeting this week, discussing how they would go about projecting costs five years into Louisiana's future.

Assuming that you continue tomorrow what you’re doing today, and try to adjust for those things that you know,” Heather Clark, legislative senior budget analyst, gave as the rule of thumb for what they were aiming to do. “That’s the language that guides all the estimating conferences that are authorized in Title 39.”

But where to begin? Last fiscal year, before the Medicaid expansion? Or using the current fiscal year as the pattern?

To me it just seems to make sense that we use ’17 as kind of the base year and, you know, learn as we go,” Deputy Commissioner of Administration Barbara Goodson suggested.

Everyone agree with starting with ’17?” Clark asked. “And then do you want to do 4 years out and have a 5 year period, or do you want 5 years of projections?”

Assistant Health Secretary Jeff Reynolds said having this group analyzing the data and totaling up the anticipated costs should be a relief.

It’s a constant discussion point I’m having with the Appropriations and Finance committees about why is this program still growing?” Reynolds said. “So, I think having something out that far probably is good. This is more reality. Don’t expect this thing to be flat or going down.”

The group's first estimate is due to be submitted to the Joint Budget Committee in November.