Next Governor Has No Wealth for Health

Oct 2, 2015

Health care funding bleeds the most when Louisiana’s budget is in the red. Since it appears the scalpel will be wielded for some time yet to come, how do gubernatorial candidates plan to stitch Louisiana’s health care together?

”I would accept the Medicaid expansion, and I would do it very early in my administration,” John Bel Edwards says, adding that it makes fiscal sense. “They’re our tax dollars that are going to other states.”

David Vitter is more reserved about accepting the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

“I have not taken off the table — I’ve been very clear about this — expanding coverage under the Medicaid program.” But, Vitter says he would set conditions for doing so.

Jay Dardenne says he would set up a task force.

“Under the current rules for the ACA, I would not take the federal dollars. But I will appoint a task force, charged with presenting to me a waiver proposal that we will submit to Washington to justify taking the money.”

Scott Angelle isn’t discounting the possibility of Medicaid expansion, either.

“I believe there are opportunities for us to create waivers to submit to the federal government.”

Another complication is the privatization of the LSU Hospital System, which is not providing the cost savings initially promised. In fact, it appears to be needing an ever-increasing amount of the dwindling health care funding Louisiana has available.

“The privatization scheme illegally used advance lease payments – a half billion dollars they’re going to hold back out of future Medicaid payments,” John Bel Edwards says.

Edwards, a Democrat, fought the privatization plans when they were presented to the Legislature. Scott Angelle, a Republican and a former member of Governor Bobby Jindal’s cabinet, defends the privatization.

“These partnerships have restored in many cases and exceeded the level of services formerly provided by the state cash-strapped system,” Angelle says.

Vitter believes the changes are beneficial.

“The old Charity System’s being transformed through public-private partnerships,” Vitter says.

But Edwards also notes one of the partnerships is headed to court, for breach of contract.

“We did it in a hurried fashion,” Edwards says, “Resulted from dozens of blank pages in a contract approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors.”

Dardenne says, at this point, the state has to make it work.

“We’re too far down the road to now stop and say we’re going to redo this whole thing.”