LSU BMC is one of only 18 hospitals in
The award recognizes the
LHCR established the awards to recognize
“Our staff deserves credit for the success the award represents,” said Kurt Scott, LSU BMC hospital administrator. “Throughout the hospital, staff daily put into practice the high standard of care that is necessary for quality improvement.”
LSU BMC staff have been working with quality improvement specialists from LHCR to use proven, evidence-based practices to improve patient care.
“Louisiana Health Care Review is pleased to recognize the
The awards were announced at the second annual Louisiana Health Care Quality Summit hosted by the LHCR. 2008 is the fourth year the awards were given.
OPINION: Jindal making cuts, seeking more
I write to express the Jindal administration's agreement with, and continued support for, the position advanced in a recent News-Star editorial: "Don't tax; cut back." But I also wish to provide News-Star readers with the actual data behind our efforts.
As an answer to "what ails Louisiana's state budget," the editorial says that, rather than raise taxes or cut education spending, it makes better sense to "thin out the state work force." I agree, and that's precisely the approach the Jindal administration has been taking.
The editorial cites a claim that state employment has grown by 3,000 jobs since the beginning of the Jindal administration. That is not the case.
The editorial acknowledges: "Nor can Jindal control every hire, although the executive branch controls most. Higher education and health-care hires can elude his control." As these figures demonstrate, employment has decreased in those areas under direct administration control. Ironically, the growth in employment has come in those areas outside direct administration control.
What's more, the fiscal year 2010 budget that we proposed called for the reduction of 1,421 full-time authorized positions across state government. Combined with 971 position eliminations associated with the FY 09 mid-year budget reductions, and 1,019 eliminations previously implemented through budgetary action, these new recommended position eliminations would bring the total to 3,411 eliminations of full-time authorized positions since the beginning of the Jindal administration — and, all told, generating $222 million in total savings. This kind of job elimination through "attrition" is essential for long-term reductions to the size and cost of government.
It's also indicative of the kind of cost-savings we are
seeking across state government to help restore higher education funding
without delaying planned tax relief for the citizens of
Angele Davis is commissioner of administration for Bobby Jindal.
An announcement has just been made on the house floor that
former Senate Secretary Mike Baer has passed away.
by Gwen Filosa, The Times-Picayune
An Ivy League graduate who fudged transcripts and invented her standardized test score to get into the LSU School of Dentistry pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal financial aid fraud.
Obialunamma Agubuzu, 25, of River Ridge admitted to sending off fraudulent claims of a 4.0 undergraduate grade point average and a high score on the Dental Admission Test -- which she never took -- to land $35,572 in loans under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, along with $8,000 in private scholarships.
Agubuzu is due in U.S. District Court for sentencing Oct. 14, where she will face up to five years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Her roommate, Anthony Juan Walker, 27, still faces a charge of financial aid fraud for allegedly teaming up with Agubuzu in the scam. Both were indicted May 21 on several counts of fraud.
A month later, LSU police found
Instead of a 4.0 GPA, Agubuzu graduated in 2007 from Cornell with a 2.452, authorities said. She also had taken none of the science courses listed as prerequisites for admission to LSU's dental program.
Agubuzu's father is a retired
Nigerian ambassador, and her parents live in
B ENJAMIN OLIVER HICKS / The Daily Reveille
Baton Rouge General potentially faces $6.1 million in cuts.
Health care and higher education are both looking at steep budget reductions next fiscal year.
And just as Chancellor Michael Martin and LSU System President John Lombardi have spoken up about the effects a $219 million funding reduction would have on public colleges, universities and the state in general, health care officials are spreading the word about the cuts House Bill 1 dealt them.
“[The effects] would stretch throughout the entire state, very similar to what is being thought about in higher education,” said John Matessino, president of the Louisiana Hospital Association. “There would be layoffs all over.”
HB 1, the state’s $28 billion state spending proposal, has hospitals taking a $200 million cut in reimbursements they receive for providing care to the state’s poor through the Medicaid health insurance program. The funding reduction is to help make up for an expected $1.3 billion state revenue shortfall for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The cuts to Medicaid would result in about 4,000 layoffs statewide, according to data collected by the Louisiana Hospital Association.
But last week, the State Senate Finance Committee restored 75 percent of the Medicaid cuts, which leaves health care with $90 million in major reductions to deal with, said Michelle Clement, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Hospital Association.
The 75 percent restored would still leave
“HB 1 will now go to the full House for concurrence, and the bill will most likely end up in Conference Committee,” Clement said in an e-mail to The Daily Reveille. “The House could strip away everything the Senate put back in or they can restore the cuts 100 percent ... We will have to wait and see.”
Matessino said Senate Bills 1 and 2 could help health care and higher education the most.
Backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the bills would make it easier for the state to balance the budget using certain dedicated funds without having to dip so deeply into health care and higher education’s budgets.
The state constitution currently leaves health care and higher education the most vulnerable during financial downturns because most other funds are not susceptible to cuts. The bills would allow the state to dip into those dedicated funds up to 10 percent, instead of the current 5.
“That’s something that’s got to happen,” Matessino said. “We have to take the pressure off higher education and health care.”
Matessino said Medicaid is
already under-reimbursed, with
Many health care leaders have expressed the importance of
The health care industry employs the largest amount of people in the state, said Paul Salles, chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans at a State Capitol news conference in late May. He said the health care industry is important to economic development and has a $7.8 billion payroll and more than 250,000 employees.
Thank goodness for the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare.
After compelling testimony Wednesday from emergency room doctors opposed to weakening the state's motorcycle helmet law, committee members did the sensible thing. They refused to vote on House Bill 639, which likely killed the legislation for the session.
The issue shouldn't even have been in question. The
emergency room physicians testified that the helmet mandate saves lives and
reduces injuries in crashes.
When former Gov. Mike Foster talked lawmakers into scrapping the helmet law during his first term, motorcycle deaths increased. After former Gov. Kathleen Blanco pushed lawmakers to reinstate the helmet requirement in 2004, fatalities dropped.
That should have been sufficient evidence of the value of the law.
But some lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal persist in trying to get rid of the helmet requirement. The governor's executive counsel Jimmy Faircloth argued in favor of HB 639 at the committee meeting, saying the legislation was a matter of "freedom of choice."
Fortunately, the committee members listened to the ER doctors instead.
To claim that the issue is about freedom ignores the fact that highways are shared by all of us, and the state has an obligation to make them as safe as possible. The consequences of risky behavior aren't confined to the rider who chooses not to wear a helmet. High fatality rates drive up the cost of auto insurance, and riders who suffer serious injuries can be a financial drain on taxpayers.
It's a simple concept: Requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet is an issue of public safety, as are seat belt laws and prohibitions against drinking and driving.
HB 639 was a bad bill based on a bad premise, and the committee was right to let it die. Let's just hope it stays dead.
By JORDAN BLUM
Advocate Capitol News Bureau
TRAVIS SPRADLING/THE ADVOCATE
Marjorie Esman, left, of
the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, speaks Wednesday against
House Bill 517, by state Rep. Harvey LeBas, D-Ville
Platte, which would allow medical workers to opt out of performing services
for ethical or religious reasons. At right, Julie Mickelberry
of Planned Parenthood of
Marjorie Esman, left, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, speaks Wednesday against House Bill 517, by state Rep. Harvey LeBas, D-Ville Platte, which would allow medical workers to opt out of performing services for ethical or religious reasons. At right, Julie Mickelberry of Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and Mississippi Delta, waits to also speak against HB517 at the hearing.
Legislation to allow medical workers to opt out of performing services for moral or religious reasons narrowly passed out of a state Senate committee Wednesday.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved House Bill 517 on a 3-2 vote after tinkering with some of the language.
HB517 would permit health-care workers to refuse to participate in any medical service “that violates his conscience.” Conscience is defined as religious belief or moral conviction.
That includes procedures such as abortions, euthanasia, cloning and human embryonic stem cell research.
The legislation is backed by Gov. Bobby Jindal and groups such as the Louisiana Family Forum and the Louisiana Right to Life Federation. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Harvey LeBas, D-Ville Platte.
Opponents include Planned Parenthood, Louisiana Agenda for Children, the Forum for Equality and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Marjorie Esman of the ACLU of Louisiana said the bill could lead to all kinds of discrimination and racism under the guise of moral objections.
“At best, this bill would lead to all kinds of unintended consequences,” Esman said.
For instance, she said, some religions oppose immunization shots for children. In a rural area, a doctor refusing to do immunizations could lead to a school being temporarily shut down, she said.
While narrowing language in the bill through amendments, state Sen. Cheryl Gray Evans, D-New Orleans, said, “I’m trying to make a bad bill a good bill. It’s problematic in committee.”
Committee members said more amendments could come on the Senate floor.
Committee Chairwoman Willie Mount, D-Lake Charles; Dale Erdey, R-Livingston; and David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, voted in favor of the bill.
Gray Evans and Sen. Yvonne Dorsey, D-Baton Rouge, opposed it.
Advocate Capitol News Bureau
TRAVIS SPRADLING/THE ADVOCATE
State Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Grosse Tete, seated left, with state Reps. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, and Walker Hines, D-New Orleans, talk with Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, standing, in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee between testimony on bills Wednesday.
Controversial legislation concerning dentistry will have to wait another week for a chance to progress in the Senate.
State Rep. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, spent close to three hours Wednesday in and around the Senate Health and Welfare Committee waiting for his dentistry legislation to come up.
Pearson’s House Bill 687 was the last to be taken up by the committee, and Chairwoman Sen. Willie Mount, D-Lake Charles, asked an exasperated Pearson if the bill could be taken up first thing next week instead because of time constraints.
That could put HB687 at greater risk because only two weeks remain in the legislative session and the bill must still be approved by the Senate committee and the full Senate.
HB687 was first designed to outlaw performing dentistry in schools. But a compromise was approved on the House floor to force the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry to enact rules for dentistry in schools or mobile dental units by Jan. 1.
The amended legislation also requires any dentist providing such school care to have at least $1 million in medical malpractice liability insurance. Opponents said the insurance measure would price out many dentists from practicing.
HB687 centers on the new trend in
Pearson contended removing “partial” dentistry care in school libraries and gyms is needed to encourage parental involvement and to get students the quality care they really need.
Several in opposition have argued that dentistry in schools is the only way many students from low-income families will get any dental care at all.
Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
"The Louisiana Legislature is about to make major cuts to hospitals and health care providers this week," the advertisement said. "That means higher bills for you and your family."
Last week, the state senate restored about 75 percent of the Medicaid cuts included in the proposed state budget.
But, that still leaves providers with about $90 million in Medicaid reductions across the state.
Providers say that could cost the state more than 1,700 jobs.
There would be more than $35 million in cuts in the
Ochsner Hospital CEO Dr. Patrick Quinlan says for every $20 the state spends on Medicaid, the federal government kicks in an $80 match.
"This leverage of the 80 percent federal contribution to these dollars makes this a particularly beneficial cut to remove because we're losing far more federal dollars than state dollars," said Quinlan.
The cuts would also affect the ambulance industry.
The budget now reflects a more than 7 percent Medicaid cut to ambulance providers.
"It's a very sad reality, but that is the reality," said Acadian Ambulance VP Steve Kuiper. There would be a substantial decrease in the number of personnel, not just Acadian Ambulance, but all the ambulance providers would be face that statewide.
Kuiper says lawmakers need to think long and hard about what the cuts will do to response time.
"If it's their family member, their loved one, their friend that has to wait an additional, one, two, three minutes for an ambulance, those one, two, three minutes can make the difference between life and death, think about that message," said Kuiper.
Providers say with the amount of cuts coming down the pike, on top of mid-year cuts last year, patient care is expected suffer.
"It's a very difficult task to do, particularly at a time when the baby-boomers come on and the city is getting its population back, to have less to do more with is a very difficult challenge," said Quinlan.
"We could probably work with a small reduction, maybe 1 percent, but to look at a 7 percent across the board cut for all of us is devastating to the point where patient care would positively be, negatively impacted," said Kuiper.
Lawmakers admit they are left with a series of tough choices this year.
They have to find some way to trim about $2 billion out of the state's nearly $30 billion budget.
Health care and Higher Education are easier targets because funding for those services are not constitutionally obligated.
By Noam N. Levey and Janet Hook
Reporting from Washington — Behind the open brawling over how to rebuild the nation's healthcare system, another struggle is beginning that may be the toughest test for the drive to cover millions of people without insurance and improve medical care for all: who should pay the eye-popping bill.
President Obama and his congressional allies -- who are also struggling to hold down the national debt after years of deficit spending and new outlays to combat the recession -- have pledged to raise more than $1 trillion over the next decade to offset the costs of what would be the biggest health overhaul in generations.
But the prospect of new taxes, new fees for businesses and
cutbacks in other government spending has set off a furious behind-the-scenes
struggle that is reviving the old maxim attributed to the late Sen. Russell
Faced with a proposal to increase the tax on liquor and soft drinks, for instance, the liquor lobby sent Anchor Brewing Co. of San Francisco to see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). The milk industry objected too, saying it would have to raise the price of chocolate milk.
And when congressional Democrats started warming up to the idea of curbing the tax break for employer-provided health benefits, the labor movement attacked one of the idea's leading champions, liberal Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
"I suspect what will emerge as the toughest issue for lawmakers is not the ideological debate about the role of government, because there is some consensus there about the need for a centrist approach. Rather, it will be how to pay for the plan," said Drew Altman, president of the nonprofit Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. "The bottom line is there is no slam-dunk, easy way to do this."
To date, interest groups remain reluctant to appear intransigent and risk getting shut out of negotiations.
But the jockeying is expected to become public soon.
And it's already worrying Democrats on Capitol Hill, where there is little consensus about how to come up with hundreds of billions of dollars.
It also provides an indication of how hard it may be to maintain broad support once it gets down to specifics.
Obama, who at a White House meeting Wednesday urged a
bipartisan group of senior lawmakers to press ahead with healthcare
legislation, is stepping up his efforts. He travels to
So far, neither the president nor senior Democrats such as
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of
A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found solid majorities of Americans favor some ideas for funding the overhaul, such as raising taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and families making more than $250,000.
But taxing sodas and unhealthy snacks is less popular, as is an across-the-board income tax hike.
Obama sparked an immediate backlash when he laid out plans to raise nearly $300 billion over the next decade by cutting payments to private insurers that contract to provide healthcare to seniors under the Medicare Advantage program.
The insurance industry, which helped derail the
AARP, with more than 40 million members, blanketed Capitol Hill with letters warning lawmakers not to cut benefits to seniors.
Others rebelled at a second Obama proposal to come up with an additional $300 billion by reducing deductions for high-income taxpayers on charitable contributions, home mortgage interest, and state and local taxes.
Charitable organizations, who claimed the change would reduce the incentive for people to give to nonprofits during a recession, were so successful getting their message across on Capitol Hill that home builders and Realtors did not bother mounting a high-octane lobbying campaign of their own.
Congressional ideas have fared little better, with lobbyists challenging proposals to levy fees on businesses that don't provide health insurance and to raise taxes on liquor and sugary drinks.
Many interest groups are competing to convince lawmakers that they can't afford to get saddled with a healthcare tab.
When senior Democrats this week put forward their proposal for requiring employers to provide health insurance or pay into a fund to cover the uninsured, business groups led the charge.
"All we have been talking about for months is cost, cost, cost," said R. Bruce Josten, lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It seems like employers are the one group getting stuck paying the bill."
Gerry Shea, a top official at the AFL-CIO, which has been leading the fight against taxing health benefits, suggested charities, not people with health benefits, should pay.
"Nothing could turn my stomach more than seeing the charitable foundations going into panic mode," Shea said. "This is about healthcare. These foundations think their budget is more important than health."
Gov. Bobby Jindal is critical of the Senate's attempts to ease severe budget cuts on higher education and health care, saying they would only delay the inevitable.
The Senate's budget proposal, which includes delaying an income tax break and dipping into the state's rainy day fund, doesn't "so much relieve the budget pressure as much as it moves it forward, maybe a year," the governor said.
That may be true, but cushioning the blow isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The depth of cuts proposed by the administration could be
damaging, particularly in higher education. What the state ought to do is
weed out duplicate and under-performing or unnecessary programs, including a
hard look at whether
That isn't what will happen if 15 percent -- $219 million -- in cuts have to be made to colleges and universities for the next budget year. Higher education already absorbed a $55 million cut in the middle of this budget year.
If some cuts were delayed for a year, there would be more
time to make trims strategically and plan for the long-term. A strong higher
education system is crucial to
The Senate's revisions would make that possible. Its $28.7 billion version of the budget restores $284 million to higher education and health care but still cuts spending in most state programs. The infusion of money is contingent upon the approval of other measures, including a partial delay of an income tax reduction approved last year.
The House declared that proposal unconstitutional Monday because it didn't originate in that chamber, which is where revenue and tax measures are supposed to begin.
The idea is sound, though, and would give the state $118 million more to spend on colleges and universities in the upcoming budget.
Gov. Jindal is right to be concerned about future budgets, especially as federal stimulus money evaporates.
But the Senate budget doesn't ignore financial realities. Its budget still includes $166 million in cuts to the Department of Health and Hospitals and $105 million to colleges and universities.
But it would allow the state to slow down a bit and be smart about where it makes cuts.
By Matthew Perrone
ADELPHI, Md. - Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that three blockbuster psychiatric drugs appear safe and effective for children and adolescents, despite side effects that can increase the risk of diabetes.
The FDA's panel of psychiatric experts voted to approve the use of drugs from AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in patients ages 10 to 17.
The FDA is not required to accept the group's advice, though it usually does.
"We'll take all of this into consideration, but I can't make any promises about when we'll take action," said Dr. Thomas Laughren, FDA's director of psychiatric drugs.
All three drugs already are approved for adults with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Their side effects include weight gain, high blood sugar, and sleepiness.
A positive FDA decision will expand the use of drugs that
already make up the top-selling class of prescriptions in the
The panel - mainly comprised of psychiatrists - largely brushed aside concerns from patient and consumer advocates that the companies should have been required to conduct longer studies of the drugs' side effects.
The panel voted 11-4, with four abstentions, that Lilly's drug Zyprexa is safe for treating bipolar, despite evidence the drug causes significantly more weight gain than other treatments.
The Indianapolis-based company is only seeking approval for the drug as a second-choice, after other drugs have been tried.
"I had concerns about the metabolic side effects but
if this is going to be used as the last treatment option then I think having
other treatments available to physicians is worthwhile," said Dr. Frank
Schizophrenia affects about 2.4 million Americans and is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and social withdrawal, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
About 5.7 million Americans experience bipolar disorder, which causes rapid mood swings and shifts in energy.
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