Thursday, July 19, 2012

Set it up and knock it down

Louisiana Budget Project's Jan Moller watching DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein testify to the Legislature about the Jindal Administration's proposed Medicaid cuts.

LPB's Steve Spires analyzes those cuts here
Responding to a decrease in federal aid to Louisiana’s Medicaid program, the Jindal administration announced plans to cut funding for LSU health by nearly $330 million, which comes to almost one-fourth of the system’s total budget. The amount set aside for treating the uninsured was cut roughly in half.

Despite the administration’s insistence that the cuts will encourage “modernization” and “efficiencies,” it’s hard to see how cuts of this magnitude can be made without hospital closures. With the latest cuts, the LSU health system’s budget has now been slashed by 36 percent (adjusted for inflation) since 2008-09.

To put things in perspective, the $330 million cut is slightly less than the combined budgets of Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center in Independence, Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma, University Medical Center in Lafayette, WO Moss Regional Medical Center in Lake Charles, and Washington-St Tammany Medical Center in Bogalusa.

Clearly, a budget cut that is equivalent to shutting down five of Louisiana’s 10 charity hospitals will have a negative impact on access to services. Further complicating the cuts is the need for LSU to maintain adequate facilities for medical students.

While the decrease in federal aid was not the fault of state policymakers, placing the majority of the cuts on the backs of LSU hospitals—and by extension, the uninsured—will jeopardize the ability of the system to achieve its core mission, and is likely to cause significant harm.

Take a ride down Canal Street these days and you're bound to notice many a "crane on the skyline" tasked with erecting LSU's new state of the art hospital facility. On Sunday, New Orleanians will be treated to the spectacle of a large building implosion downtown in order to make way for a stage of this project. But today, in Baton Rouge, the Governor appears to have already pre-imploded this project as well.

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