To the editor:
Louisiana’s hospitals and health-care providers will be facing some of the toughest financial challenges in years because of national health-care reform, state reductions in reimbursement for Medicaid, federal payment limitations for rural hospitals and a decrease of federal matching dollars in the Medicaid program [“A catastrophe in the making,” Oct. 20]. These reductions will limit access to health-care services, which could lead to overcrowding and longer wait times in our hospital emergency rooms. Our community hospitals may even have to eliminate or reduce some services.
The immediate problem facing the state is the federal match for the Medicaid program, also known as Federal Medical Assistance Percentages [FMAP]. The current federal funding formula for our Medicaid program is flawed, because it includes increases in the state’s per-capita personal income resulting from public and private recovery dollars that were infused into the state after two of the most devastating and costly hurricanes in the country’s history. The FMAP decrease facing Louisiana in January 2011 is staggering. Without an adjustment to the federal formula, Louisiana stands to lose close to $1.2 billion in health-care funding for our most vulnerable patients—the poor and the elderly.
When there is a crisis, such as the H1N1 flu, or a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, communities rely on their hospitals to be there 24/7. Our community leaders, business leaders, state and federal officials, and health-care providers must pull together during this difficult time to avert the impending health-care crisis facing our state.
John A. Matessino, President/CEO, Louisiana Hospital Association
Improving grad rates
To the editor:
After reading your poll question about what should be done to improve graduation rates in Louisiana high schools, I have a suggestion [Daily Report, Oct. 19]. Since I did not feel any of the suggested ways were really appropriate [except maybe the first one about the dropout system without adding a lot of new money], I would say the following:
1. Hold the student accountable. If they become truant [by some definition, which I think now is five days of unexcused absences], they are put in a workforce and made to do public service work for some considerable time. This work could be cleaning up highways and painting government facilities. A sheriff in Arizona does similar things with convicted criminals. He works them in chain gangs and makes them sleep in tents if they are away from the jail. We could do the same thing and get some projects completed at the same time.
2. If the parents are held accountable and have some penalty that hits them, maybe they will make more effort to get children to school. I realize some single-parent homes will be a problem, but there has to be some penalty they receive to help promote children going to school.
3. The truant children should be forced [as part of the chain-gang effort] to sit through some classes on job training and maybe hear from a few criminals who have served their time and want to see children stay out of jail.
4. If all else fails, then they should be put into a military-type school, where they live and work and do some good for society as their pay—sort of a prison that pushes the students to gain self-respect and learn right from wrong.
5. If that fails, they go to prison for several years to help try to further rehab them, even though I think the rehab rate from prisons is very low. At least it will get them off the streets and maybe the crime rate will drop.
Mickey Christensen, Baton Rouge
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