For almost 16 years I have been a member of OGB, and my wife, a teacher, has been a member for 25 years. This is the second rejection we have received this year through MedImpact. Rejecting my medicine is one thing, but rejecting our son’s is another. We have never seen anything like this in our years with OGB.
You will recall that OGB was privatized under Gov. Bobby Jindal, and nearly all of the $500,000,000 trust fund has been stolen. Soon, all money dedicated to funding state workers’ insurance will be gone. The money was pilfered by Jindal in an effort to fill holes in his economically disastrous state budget. But this will mean 230,000 Louisiana citizens are about to lose all semblances of health coverage on January 1.
Earlier on Tuesday, the former Health and Hospitals head, Bruce Greenstein, was indicted, and the state attorney general declared the new state health insurance changes illegal through an opinion solicited by Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite. I thought this might stop the train wreck.
But later in the day I had to fight tooth and nail to get our child’s medicine. I had to contact state representatives and the media. We were finally able to get the meds filled on Friday afternoon. I wasn’t looking for a freebie. We pay hundreds of dollars a month for health insurance, have co-pays for everything, and we paid $55 for the prescription. We just wanted the doctor-prescribed medication. Not the insurance-mandated meds.
Most employees and retirees will not be so lucky. Louisiana state employees and retirees need to understand one fact. If all of the proposed OGB changes go through as Gov. Jindal plans, they are effectively uninsured. Health coverage is over, and it will not be coming back.
Sure, Kristy Nichols, Jindal’s spokesperson, says the OGB trust fund was too big (Insanity!), that they are “right-sizing” the insurance plans (Destroying them!), and they’re now offering better options called Pelican HRA 1000, Pelican HSA 775, Magnolia Local, and other names worthy of George Orwell’s 1984. According to Nichols, the new plans will be pure utopia. But when an OGB member gets a letter from MedImpact of San Diego, California, a cold memo rejecting a medication prescribed by a doctor here in Louisiana, let’s call it what it is: a “death panel” letter.
As one person put it, “Bobbycare” is health care without any care at all. How true.
While our governor flits from Iowa to New Hampshire playing presidential candidate, a delusional quest to anyone but himself, Louisiana goes the way of Rome on fire, burning, burning, burning. Jindal is like a hummingbird on crystal meth. The wings are moving at a blinding pace, but the overall flight is completely doomed.
I have three questions about the OGB privatization and the missing half billion dollars: Who will go to prison for stealing state funds through a scheme worthy of a bank heist? Will the FBI investigate the theft of public money? And will the legislators stop the train wreck?
Let’s all hope and pray that the FBI, the courts, or the Louisiana Legislature will prevent Jindal from destroying one more area of Louisiana that worked before he came into office: the Office of Group Benefits.
Dayne Sherman is a Novelist, Columnist, Songwriter. He is a Louisiana native and professor of library science.