The Louisiana Legislature today announced the schedule of joint statewide public meetings by the House and Senate Governmental Affairs committees on the upcoming redistricting process. Meetings will begin February 17 and end March 1. A meeting schedule follows this news release.
The committees will show current district maps with the new Census population figures for current districts and discuss which districts no longer meet population guidelines. It is important for the public to participate in these meetings and make their opinions known so that the committees may consider public input as plans are drafted and discussed.
In an effort to allow for maximum participation in the process, all meetings will be streamed live over the Internet. Further, comments and questions can be submitted at http://house.louisiana.gov/H_Redistricting2011/ .
House and Governmental Affairs Chairman Rick Gallot said it is necessary to begin the meetings as soon as the Census data is available due to the time constraints the legislature faces with this process.
"We expect to receive the Census data during the first week of February," Gallot said. "Over a three week period we will hold statewide meetings and will probably convene a three-week special session in late March to adopt our plans. With the regular legislative session beginning on April 25, this will give the legislature a short time to complete the redistricting process as the plans must be submitted to the U. S. Justice Dept. for pre-approval. The department then has at least 60 days to either approve or reject our plan. Additionally, qualifying for most offices affected by redistricting begins September 6.."
The legislature is required to re-draw congressional, legislative, public service commission, and BESE districts.
Due to the lack of population growth over the last 10 years, Louisiana is expected to lose a congressional seat. Current estimates also suggest that federal and state districts will change due to the population shifts in the state, including those resulting from the hurricanes in 2005.
SCHEDULE OF REDISTRICTING MEETINGS 2011
Thursday, 17th 10:00 a.m. Northshore (Covington or Mandeville)
Thursday, 17th 6:00 p.m. New Orleans
Monday, 21st 10:00 a.m. Houma
Monday, 21st 6:00 p.m. Baton Rouge
Tuesday, 22nd 10:00 a.m. Lake Charles
Tuesday, 22nd 6:00 p.m. Lafayette
Monday, 28th 6:00 p.m. Shreveport
Tuesday, 1st 10:00 a.m. Monroe
Tuesday, 1st 6:00 p.m. Alexandria
Meeting locations will be provided as soon as they are confirmed.
DHH Secretary, Bruce Greenstein Health Tour
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein will begin a statewide tour next week, meeting with citizens and health care providers to continue the department's dialogue about how to make Medicaid better through managing the health care of recipients.
"Our time is now. Our sense of urgency could not be greater," Secretary Greenstein said. "Despite spending nearly $7 billion a year, taxpayers in Louisiana aren't getting the return on their investment, and too many of the people who rely on us aren't getting the kind of coordinated health care they need and deserve. It is clear that our system is broken. To fix it, we must work together and take giant leaps into the new world of health care that has been passing us up. Change is always difficult, but change in Louisiana is imperative."
The tour kicks off in Monroe on Tuesday, Dec. 7 and continues in Shreveport on Dec. 8, Lafayette on Dec. 9 and Alexandria on Dec. 10. The following week, there will be forums in Lake Charles, Houma, Abita Springs and New Orleans. The first forum was held as a statewide event in Baton Rouge on Nov.. 17 and drew more than 200 participants. The regional forums schedule is online at www.MakingMedicaidBetter.com, and detailed agendas for each forum will be available online prior to the meeting date. There is no registration necessary to attend the forums. DHH will post resources and presentations from each forum online. Each forum also will be recorded, and DHH will make the video available online shortly after each forum.
"These forums are so important because this change isn't just about the Department of Health and Hospitals," Greenstein said. "It is about every one of us working together for a healthier Louisiana. Despite all the efforts of very fine doctors, hospitals and other health care providers across the state, they are trapped in a system that rewards volume over value. It's that system that has given us poor health outcomes, waste and inefficiency. And it's that system that must change."
Each forum will feature presentations from local health care providers, Greenstein and DHH Medicaid staff, and each will offer several opportunities for attendees to ask questions and propose ideas.
"Our structure for managing care in Medicaid, known as Coordinated Care Networks, was built with an intense focus on improving health outcomes for the people we serve," said Dr. Rodney Wise, Medicaid Medical Director. "We are eager to get out and talk more about our vision and hear the many good ideas others have that will help us improve upon the work that has already been done. I've met with so many fine physicians from all over the state through this process, and I know we all believe that managing care is better than not managing care. Working together, we will improve Medicaid, and ultimately the health of our citizens."
The complete schedule of forums is as follows:
Region 8 (Northeast La.)
1 p.m.- 4 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 7
Monroe City Council Chambers
Monroe City Hall
400 Lea Joyner Memorial Expwy
Monroe, LA 71201-7509
Region 7 (Northwest La.)
4 p.m.-7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 8
Louisiana Technical College
2010 N Market Street
Shreveport, LA 71107
Region 4 (Acadiana)
4 p.m.-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9
Acadian Ambulance Services Building
302 Hopkins Street
Lafayette, LA 70501
Region 6 (Central Louisiana)
9 a.m.-noon, Friday, Dec. 10
Rapides Women's and Children's Hospital, Cascade Room
211 Fourth St.
Alexandria, LA 71301
Region 9 (Florida Parishes)
2 p.m.-5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 13
Abita Springs Town Hall
22161 Level Street
Abita Springs, LA 70420
Region 5 (Southeast La.)
6 p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 14
Lake Charles Civic Center
900 Lake Shore Drive
Lake Charles, LA 70601
Region 3 (South Central La.)
4 p.m.-7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 15
Houma Terrebonne Civic Center
346 Civic Center Blvd.
Houma, Louisiana 70360
Region 1 (Orleans Metro)
4 p.m.-7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 16
Pan-American Life Building Conference Center
601 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Detailed agendas for each forum will be posted and updated online at www.MakingMedicaidBetter.com as the dates near. Also online, people can submit questions and ideas, and sign up for the department's Making Medicaid Better newsletter to stay up-to-date in the latest developments to reform Medicaid in Louisiana.
Politics: Column by Dan Juneau, President and CEO of Louisiana Business & Industry
Poll after poll has shown that American voters have had it with Congress. The institution polls lower than taxes at a Tea Party rally. The big egos, the posturing, the partisanship, and the actions and inaction that have led us to the verge of fiscal collapse make members of Congress personae non gratae with most voters.
The election earthquake on November 2 should have gotten the attention of the leadership of the party that was on the losing end that night. All available evidence indicates that hasn’t happened.
Congress now finds itself in a lame duck session that will span approximately three weeks. It faces an impossible array of legislation to be considered during that time frame, most of which was punted into the lame duck because the congressional leadership didn’t want to advance certain bills before the election—entirely for political reasons.
We are now two-and-a-half months into the current fiscal year and not one appropriations bill has been enacted—not one. That is unforgiveable. With less than a month left in the calendar year, neither the taxpayers who pay the taxes nor the businesses who deduct them know what the personal income tax rates are going to be on January 1. That is incorrigible and indefensible. If the alternative minimum tax patch is not enacted before the end of the year, 21 million taxpayers will be hit with a huge tax increase regardless of whether the Bush tax cuts are extended for everyone or no one. If the current capital gains tax rate of 15 percent is not extended immediately, the prospect of having the rate go up to 20 percent on January 1 could well result in a sell-off of equities which will be another huge blow to the economy.
If there was one clear message from the November 2 elections, it is that the voters wanted Congress to focus on jobs, the economy, debt, and excessive spending. So what has Congress been working on? Outside of naming a few federal buildings, the effort has been directed toward a food safety bill (that was flawed and had to be re-enacted); the DREAM Act (designed to grease the skids for some illegal aliens to achieve citizenship); a nuclear arms control treaty that isn’t time critical; and the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal that the Democratic leadership in Congress didn’t bring up for the last 23 months but now says is imperative to vote on. With the unemployment rate now up to 9.8 percent and uncertainty regarding critical tax issues that can further damage the economy, one would think the members of Congress could put first things first—but that isn’t happening.
The one attempt to address the Bush tax cut extension issue was just another instance of game playing. The House rushed through an extension of the Bush tax cuts only for middle-class taxpayers on November 2. It was an empty gesture because the leadership knows the bill won’t make it out of the Senate. But it did allow the Democrats to posture for the far-left wing of their base. The Senate Democratic leadership will roll out that same play on the Senate side before realistically addressing the issue.
Our economy is in bad shape. Passing taxes on anyone—in any form—right now is going to make it worse. The voters want Congress to focus on the economy. Too many in Congress want to play games instead. If this nonsense continues, more jobs will be lost, more businesses will close, and the voters will be even angrier in 2012. You would think that the popinjays on the Potomac could understand that.
Joint Statement from the Coalition to Protect Louisiana’s Healthcare:
A Response to Meeting with Governor Jindal and DHH Sec. Greenstein
Baton Rouge, December 3, 2010 – Yesterday’s meeting with Governor Bobby Jindal and DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein was long overdue. The provider community remains united in creating a patient-centered healthcare model for Medicaid, with decisions being made by patients and physicians. This model would be a natural expansion of the CommunityCARE program, which has proven to show benefits for Louisiana.
Highlights of improvements to Louisiana’s healthcare as a direct result of the existing CommunityCARE program include:
· The proportion of infants with 6 or more well-child visits in the first 15 months of life increased by 24.7 percent over four years.
· The proportion of infants with 0, 1, or 2 well?child visits in the first 15 months of life decreased by 35.6 percent over four years.
· Well?child visits for 3 to 6 year olds increased 14.3 percent over four years.
· Annual dental visits increased by 31.8 percent overall over four years.
· The increase in vaccination coverage for Louisiana’s infants (which moved from the rank of 44th in 2006 to 2nd in 2008) is predominately the work of CommunityCARE providers who care for over 70 percent of Louisiana’s young children.
Healthcare reform should attempt to keep Louisiana taxpayer dollars in Louisiana. We believe that Louisiana will benefit both financially and with improved health outcomes in a system that is a partnership between Louisiana and its healthcare providers.
The Coalition remains committed to working with the state during these difficult budget times to ensure that Louisiana residents continue to receive the highest quality of care.
About the Coalition to Protect Louisiana’s Healthcare
The members of the Coalition to Protect Louisiana’s Healthcare include the Louisiana Ambulance Alliance, Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians, Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Louisiana Hospital Association, Louisiana State Medical Society, MedicineLouisiana and the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans. The Coalition’s mission is to protect healthcare services for the state’s most vulnerable patients.
About the Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians
Established in 1947, the Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians (LAFP) is one of the state’s largest primary care organizations, with more than 1,500 member physicians, residents and medical students throughout the State of Louisiana. The mission of the LAFP is to promote and support Louisiana's family physicians in providing excellent health care and to provide a unified voice for family medicine. For more information, visit the LAFP website at www.lafp.org.
About the Louisiana Ambulance Alliance
The Louisiana Ambulance Alliance, formed in 1995 by healthcare professionals who deliver emergency medical services to Louisiana’s citizens, is a not-for-profit membership organization. The LAA serves as the convening point for EMS providers, promotes and improves access to EMS services, identifies and promotes quality of care and addresses policy issues related to ambulance and air transportation services.
About the Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Established in 1983, the Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ mission is to be effective advocates for all children in Louisiana. The LA AAP is dedicated to promoting the interests of Louisiana pediatricians, increasing involvement of pediatricians in the legislative arena to positively influence the quality of pediatric practice and the welfare of children in Louisiana, increasing pediatricians’ knowledge of and participation in legislative and advocacy activities at a local level and building coalitions with other organizations working toward improving children’s health and well-being. For more information, visit the LA AAP website at www.laaap.org.
About the Louisiana Hospital Association
Established in 1926, the Louisiana Hospital Association is a non-profit organization representing more than 150 hospitals and healthcare provider groups across the state. The mission of the LHA is to support its members through advocacy, education and services. For more information, visit the LHA website at www.lhaonline.org.
About the Louisiana State Medical Society
Established in 1878, the Louisiana State Medical Society serves as the premier advocate for patients and physicians. The LSMS is the largest voluntary physician organization in the state and represents all specialties. Please visit the LSMS online at www.LSMS.org.
MedicineLouisiana is a collaborative of physicians working to better the practice environment for medical professionals in the state of Louisiana. The organization provides a unified voice for the physician and serves as a spokesperson and advocate working with policymakers at all levels of government. MedicineLouisiana represents a diversity of physician group sizes and specialties.
About the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans
The Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans is a non-profit, regional membership and service organization representing hospitals and healthcare organizations in the Greater New Orleans Area since 1977.
Congressman-Elect Landry and Obama Administration
Congressman-Elect Jeff Landry (R, LA-3) reacted today to the announcement that the nation’s jobless increased to 9.8 percent, with only 39,000 new jobs created in November.
“The arrogant, job-killing policies of this Administration have destroyed our jobs and devastated our economy,” said Landry. “I am frustrated with today’s announcement and know that Washington must be changed.”
Today the U.S. Labor Department announced the nation’s unemployment rate increased to 9.8 percent, the highest since April. Today’s announcement occurs in the same week that the Obama Administration declared they will not allow offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as part of their next five-year drilling plan. It also occurs in the middle of Washington’s debate over raising taxes.
“The President’s policies are failing the American people. American families are struggling to put food on the table, but the President continues to push policies that kill our jobs and raise our taxes,” said Landry.
“This week, the Administration disappointed the thousands of hard-working people whose livelihoods depend on the oil-and-gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico,” continued Landry. “And now they want to burden us with higher taxes. I look forward to stopping the President’s job-killing policies and actually reducing the number of jobless Americans.”