Wednesday, 15 February 2012 19:05

Louisiana Politics: Sibelius, Santorium Chat; Keystone, Jindal, Public Bribery

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romneyOne of the issues being debated during election year is whether the national healthcare law is benefiting the taxpayers and at what cost…

Below is information provided by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding the impact of the law upon Louisiana:

 Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that the Affordable Care Act provided approximately 719,000 Louisiana residents with at least one new free preventive service in 2011 through their private health insurance plans. Secretary Sebelius also announced that an estimated 487,330 Louisiana residents with Medicare received at least one free preventive benefit in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit, since the health reform law was enacted.

Together, this means an estimated 1,206,330 Louisiana residents were helped by health reform’s prevention coverage improvements. The new data were released in two new reports from HHS.

 “Americans of all ages can now get the preventive services they need, like mammograms and the new Annual Wellness Visit, free of charge, as a result of the new health care law,” Secretary Sebelius said. “With more people taking advantage of these benefits, more lives can be saved, and costly, and often burdensome, diseases can be prevented or caught earlier.”

Nationwide, the Affordable Care Act provided approximately 54 million Americans with at least one new free preventive service in 2011 through their private health insurance plans. And an estimated 32.5 million people with Medicare received at least one free preventive benefit in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit, since the health reform law was enacted. Together, this means an estimated 86 million Americans were helped by health reform’s prevention coverage improvements.  

The Affordable Care Act requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing to enrollees for a variety of preventive health services, such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults. The law also makes proven preventive services free for most people on Medicare.

The report on private health insurance coverage also examined the expansion of free preventive services in minority populations.  The results showed that an estimated 6.1 million Latinos, 5.5 million Blacks, 2.7 million Asian Americans and 300,000 Native Americans across the country with private insurance received expanded preventive benefits coverage in 2011 as a result of the new health care law.

The report discussing Medicare preventive services found that more than 25.7 million Americans (375,977 Louisiana residents) in traditional Medicare received free preventive services in 2011. The report also looked at Medicare Advantage plans and found that 9.3 million Americans (157,151 Louisiana residents) – 97 percent of those in individual Medicare Advantage plans – were enrolled in a plan that offered free preventive services.  Assuming that people in Medicare Advantage plans utilized preventive services at the same rate as those with traditional Medicare, an estimated 32.5 million Americans (487,330 Louisiana residents) benefited from Medicare’s coverage of prevention with no cost sharing.

The full report on expanded preventive benefits in private health insurance is available at  The report on expanded preventive benefits in Medicare and other ways that the Affordable Care Act strengthens Medicare is available at

The GOP presidential race. Can Rick Santorum hold his lead atop the polls?

Bayoubuzz political contributor Jeff Crouere conducted a web chat with Quin Hillyer, who hails from Louisiana and who is a senior editor of The American Spectator and a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom.  The topic?  Republican Presidential Politics...

Here is an excerpt:

Quin Hillyer: 
I think Rick Santorum is in the catbird's seat. Mitt ROmney and Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul will all start attacking him, but he's not as easy to demonize as the others who have fallen prey to such attacks. He's leading in polls in Michigan and Ohio and nationwide among Republicans. I think he is in a strong position.
Jeff Crouere: 
Mitt Romney has more money than God, so will we start seeing the predictable attacks against Rick?
Quin Hillyer: 
Absolutely. So far, though, the attacks have been silly. Bill Kristol today even called them "juvenile." I think in this case they might backfire, because people are sick of Romney's negative campaigning.

 Read More of the webchat

The Political Left On Keyston

Here is a Facebook post from Aaron Viles who is the Deputy Director of Gulf Restoration Network...send us your favorite posts focused upon Louisiana-related politics.

Wha??? Republican oil industry apologists lying about jobs? What next, denying climate change is real? Oh, right.
There's still time to contact your Senator!
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Jindal, Veterans and Legislation

Governor Jindal Cuts Ribbon for Veterans Cemetery in Leesville, Announces New Legislative Proposals to Support Veterans LEESVILLE – Governor Bobby Jindal spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today for the new Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Leesville where he announced two proposals he will pursue in the upcoming legislative session to support Louisiana veterans.

Governor Jindal said, “Today’s ribbon-cutting is another step we can take to make sure our veterans can rest with dignity and that we eternally honor their courageous service. This resting place is the least we can do for the thousands of veterans and their families who have given up so much in the name of our country and our freedom.”

Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery is the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs’ second cemetery site. The first LDVA cemetery is located in Keithville, Louisiana and opened in 2007. The Leesville site is a total of 204 acres. The cemetery is expected to accommodate roughly 59,500 veterans and their families who reside in and around Central Louisiana. Additional staffing and funding for the new cemetery has been included in the Governor’s budget.

Governor Jindal also announced two new proposals he will pursue in the 2012 Regular Legislative Session in support of Louisiana veterans.

First, Governor Jindal will propose legislation to allow an official “Veteran” designation on the driver’s licenses for Louisiana veterans. Veterans in Louisiana have no picture ID available for proof of their veteran status, except for a TRICARE veteran’s insurance card available mostly to retired veterans. The Governor said that means most veterans are forced to carry cumbersome paperwork with them to prove their veteran status when applying for jobs or for discounts and services provided by retail stores.

With this legislation, Louisiana will join states like Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Ohio with laws permitting veterans a designation on their driver’s licenses for proof of their military service. This new designation will also help the state improve outreach to veterans in order to update them regarding services and benefits that may be available. The Governor noted that maintaining an up-to-date database of veteran Louisiana citizens has been a challenge, as expensive mailings for veteran outreach by the state to old addresses has been ineffective.

Governor Jindal said, “This new designation is a simple way to ensure that all of our veterans are recognized for their sacrifices and that they have convenient proof of their service when applying for jobs, making use of veteran discounts, and requesting assistance for benefits. Veterans should not be burdened with red tape to benefit from the services and discounts that they deserve.  Additional staffing and funding has been included in our budget.”

Second, the Governor will pursue legislation to make sure students who delay their TOPS award to serve in the military do not lose their eligibility for voluntarily reenlisting. Currently, veterans must enroll in a postsecondary institution and claim their TOPS award by the semester immediately following their fifth anniversary of their high school graduation. Students can obtain a waiver if their service is involuntarily extended. However, students who choose to continue to serve their country and voluntarily re-enlist are unfairly penalized and lose their TOPS eligibility.

Under the Governor’s proposal, veterans will be able to utilize their TOPS awards as long as they enroll within one year after completing their active service in the Armed Forces.

Governor Jindal said, “The bottom line is that veterans should not be penalized for serving our country and committing to another tour of duty. Veterans should not be forced to choose between their education and fighting for our freedom, and this legislation will fix a loophole in the system that was treating our veterans unfairly.”

State Senator Robert Adley will author both pieces of legislation. Sen. Adley said, “Veterans are less than 10 percent of our population but provide us with the freedom to obtain 100 percent of our dreams. We owe them a great deal and anything we can do to remember them should be done. The TOPS bill will stop punishing veterans for reenlisting to serve our nation a second tour and the Driver’s License bill will provide more convenience for them when they return home.”

Louisiana Public Bribery Legislation

State Rep. Cameron Henry has prefiled legislation for the upcoming Regular Session which amends the state racketeering statute.

House Bill 99 adds public bribery, corrupt influencing, public intimidation and retaliation, threatening a public official, terrorism, aiding others in terrorism, intimidating, impeding or injuring witnesses, and other crimes to the current racketeering law.

Henry said, "The purpose of the racketeering statute is to allow district attorneys the option to bring multiple prosecutions together into one trial and to also attack some of the business aspects or profit motive of crime. My bill will expand those crimes which can be included in the racketeering statute and give our prosecutors additional tools in prosecuting criminal behavior. Money laundering and extortion were already a part of the existing racketeering statute as is theft and burglary. Bribery, maintaining false records, public payroll fraud, etc. are additional ways to extort and commit theft and should be included under the racketeering law."

The legislation has been referred to the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee and will be scheduled for hearing after the 2012 Regular Session convenes on March 12th.


Congressman John Fleming, M.D., (LA-4) will visit the Soul Soup Community Kitchen in DeRidder and will hold a town hall in Leesville on Thursday, February 23, 2012. At the town hall, Rep. Fleming will discuss issues of concern to area residents, including the potential impact of the president’s proposed cuts in defense spending on the mission at Fort Polk.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

EVENT:                   Visit to Soul Soup Community Kitchen

                  This event is open to the press.

WHEN:    11:00 am CST

WHERE:  Soul Soup Community Kitchen

                   808 East First Street

                   DeRidder, LA  70634

EVENT:                   Vernon Parish Town Hall

                  This event is open to the press.

WHEN:    1:00 pm CST


204 Harriet St.

Leesville, LA 71496

FEMA and Katrina

This past week marked a significant Hurricane Katrina recovery milestone for Orleans Parish, with the last household within the community living in a Federal Emergency Management Agency THU moving into their rebuilt home on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012, and the removal of the remaining respective THU occurring this past Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. 

"For more than six years, temporary housing units were located on private properties, group and industrial sites, and in commercial mobile home/RV parks across New Orleans while her residents recovered from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina," said FEMA's Louisiana Recovery Office Deputy Director of Programs Andre Cadogan. "The transition of this final household is a huge success for our agency, the state, the city, local nonprofits, and all others who contributed to helping return normalcy to New Orleans and those who live here."

City of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, "At the end of the day, FEMA trailers were never meant to be permanent housing units, so I'm glad that our code enforcement efforts coupled with FEMA case work has helped individuals transition to permanent housing. Working together, we've gone from 230 trailers in December 2010 to zero today. Another page has turned in New Orleans' post-Katrina history." 

In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA conducted the largest housing operation in the history of the country, providing THUs (travel trailers, mobile homes and park models) to approximately 92,000 families throughout Louisiana. Approximately 25 percent of these THUs were in service at the peak of the housing program in Orleans Parish.

FEMA has provided approximately $5.8 billion to assist 915,884 individuals and families in Louisiana for hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including $4.2 billion in housing assistance for rent, repairs and replacement housing and $1.6 billion in other needs assistance for such things as furniture, clothing and replacement vehicles.

Paul Responds today

Congressman and 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul has issued a statement strongly condemning Gene Sperling's call for a global minimum tax. Sperling is President Obama's director of the National Economic Council. See comments below:

“Gene Sperling's call for a global minimum tax is yet another example of this administration's hostility toward liberty, as well as its ignorance of economics. A global minimum tax would logically require some sort of global IRS to ensure the tax was paid, and it would give the government even more excuses to invade our financial privacy.

“History shows that any time ‘minimum’ taxes are created, they do not remain minimum. Greedy politicians will eventually increase both the tax rate and the number of people subject to the tax.

“A global minimum tax will further cripple economic growth, as more money is sucked out of the productive sector to be wasted by politicians and government bureaucrats. The American people are already struggling under the burden of high taxes, high spending, and outrageous debt. They do not need new taxes imposed on business at the international level.

“Instead of trying to impose new global taxes, President Obama and Mr. Sperling should join me in supporting repealing all taxes on the repatriation of foreign capital. This would inject trillions of dollars into the American economy and help create new businesses and new jobs. Tax-free capital repatriation is a major part of my Plan to Restore America.

“I hope my four rivals for the presidency - Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and President Obama himself - will join me in denouncing Mr. Sperling's call for a global tax.”

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