Wednesday, 20 August 2014 12:37
Treasury Kennedy talks Louisiana budgetary, healthcare practices, woes
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kennedy-webcast1What is the future for Louisiana's budgetary problems, healthcare, hospitals, helping the elderly and services such as education?

These were some of the issues discussed in a Google Hangout interview webcasted live Wednesday morning with Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy.

 Among the subjects discussed in part one of the interview were the depletion of millions of dollars in reserve funds such as the state employee health insuranace program, questionable budgetary practices, the cost Louisiana incurs to provide healthcare and the lack of a healthcare funding plan and the state's dependency upon the Obama administration to approve hospital privatization funding. 

Below is part one of the multi-part interview with Treasurer Kennedy conducted via his Ipad.  Part 2 will be published Thursday. 

Hi, good morning, hi, this is Steve Sabludowsky, and I am pleased today to have Treasurer John Kennedy on a hangout webcast interview and along with an associate of mine, Wayne Nix who is from Yountsville, if i am not mistaken, Louisiana.

Treasurer Kennedy, good morning to you. 

And i know we have fifteen minutes and we have a lot on our plate and we might have some people who might want to ask questions or comment.

Good morning to you

Kennedy: Good morning to you and to Wayne

Sabludowsky: Thank you so much. Two years ago we did a google hangout interview and so we are going further..having said that, if what I would like to ask you at first, if you don't mind, you've written a number of different op-ed pieces, one of course being about a number of these reserve funds that have been depleted..if you could at least take us through that...tell us about the reserve funds, some of them have at least a half billion dollars or at least one having about a half billion dollars and now is close to being depleted, so please go ahead and tell us

Kennedy: As you know Steve, we are spending more money than we take in.  That means they have to fill the hole some way, they've got to raise taxes or they've got to cut spending, or they've got to resort to accounting maneuvers.  So they've resorted to accounting maneuvers and one of the things they've done, is spend all of the taxpayer money in the state's savings accounts.  For example, they have spent about 500 million dollars in the state's health insurance program. We're self-insured for the health insurance,  retirees and employees pay money in, into the funds, the state matches it.  It had about five hundred million dollars in it, a year or so ago, at the rate they're spending, in short order, it will be down to zero.  The state had, a few years ago, about 850 million dollars in a savings account or a trust fund, we had set aside for healthcare for the elderly.   We were suppose to leave the principal alone, invest it , spend the interest.  They spent all of that and at the end of the fiscal year, the 850 million dollars will be zero. Basically, what the state has done is spend more than it's taking in and trying to fill the hole by cutting higher education and spending all of the money in our savings account. 

Sabludowsky: I thought we were suppose to live between our means, our means, i thought we were not suppose to use a credit card 

Kennedy: We're not, we're not under the constitution

Kennedy: And our biggest problem, obviously, we have a number of budgetary issues but our biggest spending issue is healthcare. We're spending about, somewhere in the neighborhood of nine and a half million dollars a year out of a 25 billion dollar budget  on healthcare and we're not doing much to contain that cost, it goes up 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 percent every year.

Kennedy: I know you have read the stories about all the things that have been done by DHH to save money but I don't know where the money is being saved, because every budget I've looked at, every year  the spending goes up to 3 percent to 6 or 7 percent and they have achieved that extra spending by cutting our universities.  We need to do some wholesale reform in our healthcare delivery system.  What we have done so far has helped, I guess, but it has not really solved the problem.

Sabludowsky: I see, now we're waiting to find out from the Obama administration regarding our proposal to them in Medicaid, what if we get a no from the Obama administration in terms of the funding of those hospitals?

Kennedy: Well, there is no plan B, our plan A is in effect, we've got to make it work because there is no plan B, in order for plan A to work, we need the blessing of the federal government, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  So far, the Center has refused to give us its blessings, we don't have much information, the negotiations are going on between the Department of Health and Hospitals and the federal government but i can tell you it is very important that we make it work, because there is no plan B, there is no plan B.

Kennedy: We privatized the Charity hospitals, i think the good news is that the quality of care is better, I certainly believe that.  I can't prove it but i believe it, based upon anecdotal evidence.  We haven't saved the money we thought we could save. I can tell you that. Maybe the savings will come later, I certainly hope so. But so far, we haven't save any money in fact, we've spent more than we were spending.          


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