Privitization crisis will lead to loss of health care
On May 10, the Center for Medicaid Services unequivocally rejected the Jindal administration’s hastily crafted financing plan for the privatization of numerous Louisiana hospitals. As a result, and as confirmed directly by me in a phone call with CMS, Louisiana’s citizens will lose up to $500 million in federal health care funding. Further, due to the Jindal administration’s irresponsible insistence on including nonexistent revenue to balance its budgets, the state is faced with budget deficits in upcoming years exceeding $2 billion. Most importantly, the poorest and most vulnerable of Louisiana’s citizens remain without meaningful access to health care.
In typical fashion, when taking credit for the “surging Louisiana economy,” Gov. Jindal neglected to mention that last week Louisiana was named the worst state for working mothers. He also did not write about our state’s unconscionably high gender pay gap or our second place poverty rate ranking in the United States.
Considering the enormity of CMS’s rejection and the implications on both the state budget and citizens’ access to health care, one would expect Gov. Jindal to directly address the issue at his first available opportunity. Instead, Gov. Jindal, Louisiana’s “op-editor-in-chief,” authored another fluff presidential aspiration piece for Forbes.com.
In response to this health care setback in Louisiana, I challenge Gov. Jindal to work with the Louisiana Legislature to enact reform that will meaningfully improve our citizens’ access to health care. I challenge him to help the Legislature enact policies that will result in increased, as opposed to decreased, federal health care funding. I challenge him to mirror Republican governors from across the country who have accepted Medicaid expansion.
When the Jindal administration finally decided to address the CMS decision, it described the decision as unprecedented. Indeed, I doubt CMS has ever reviewed such a poorly conceived, outlandish financing plan. However, Governor Jindal’s feigned surprise at the CMS decision is disingenuous.
I do not anticipate an answer to these challenges. Instead, I expect another op-ed. At some point, I imagine Gov. Jindal’s hand will get sore from patting himself on the back. I know our citizens’ backs are sore from carrying his fledgling presidential ambitions.
Two years ago, the head of the LSU Health Care System, Dr. Fred Cerise, warned the Jindal administration about potential pitfalls in its hospital privatization plan. Shortly after issuing his warnings, Dr. Cerise lost his job and Governor Jindal and the LSU Board of Supervisors approved privatization contracts riddled with blank pages and missing financial terms. For a governor who touts his “business acumen,” approving contracts missing key provisions is a head scratcher.
However, the failure of the hospital privatization plan is not surprising. Rather, it’s typical in Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana. In hopes of enlarging his national profile, Gov. Jindal continually insists on rolling out unworkable, unsustainable, and unmanageable policies that are bad for Louisiana and its citizens. Even institutions as old and important as the Louisiana Charity Hospital System are not immune.
As a point of reference, Louisiana’s Charity Hospital System endured the Great Depression, world wars, and multiple devastating hurricanes. It could not, however, survive Gov. Jindal’s “surging Louisiana economy.”
John Bel Edwards is the Louisiana state representative from District 72 and is a Democratic candidate for governor.