La. hospitals face fewer dollars for uninsured care
Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision against expanding the state's Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act, combined with a provision that shrinks uninsured care dollars, could leave Louisiana hospitals with far less money to care for those not covered by private insurance. Hospital leaders say the situation, still several years away, could leave some facilities teetering on the edge of closure and give them little way to recoup money they spend to care for the large number of uninsured patients in Louisiana. The law will cut federal dollars that states such as Louisiana use to care for large numbers of uninsured people, under the idea that those dollars will be less needed because more people would get insurance, particularly through Medicaid. The LSU-run public hospitals and tiny rural hospitals could be most at risk because they get the lion's share of the uninsured care dollars in Louisiana. The dollars account for nearly half the budget of LSU's health care services. But Louisiana Hospital Association leader John Matessino says the larger private and community hospitals also could face the spillover impact of getting higher numbers of uninsured patients without funding if other facilities shut down or limit services. "For some of those hospitals it's the difference between being open and shutting down, there's no question about it," Matessino says. "I really worry about some of these little hospitals. They're already struggling." The Associated Press has the full story here.
Louisiana remains at No. 42 on list of best states for business
The Bayou State has been steadily improving its position on a number of national lists and rankings in recent years, but the CNBC annual ranking of the best U.S. states for business is not one of them. In the sixth annual edition of the rankings, released today, Louisiana is at No. 42—the same position it held last year. Texas reclaimed the top spot on the list, which it has held three times in six years. CNBC says it scores each state "on the criteria they use to sell themselves. This year's analysis is the most comprehensive yet, using 51 metrics developed with the help of the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness, as well as input from the states themselves." Louisiana got its worst ranking, No. 50, in the "quality of life" category. It got its highest ranking, No. 9, for "cost of doing business." Check out the complete list and Louisiana's rankings by category here.
Jindal: Obama's record reveals a trail of 'broken promises'
In a guest column today, Gov. Bobby Jindal says President Barack Obama has not lived up to the vast promises of hope and change he made when running for office in 2008. "Almost four years later, President Obama's record is filled with broken promises and job losses, and he's trying to earn your vote for re-election with a campaign slogan of divide and blame," Jindal says. Of the unkept promises Jindal points to in the column, he starts with a promise not to raise taxes on middle class families making less than $250,000 a year. "But Obamacare raises taxes on health plans, medical devices, prescription drugs, and employers, and 75% of the individual mandate tax will fall on the middle class," says Jindal, who has led the GOP charge in interpreting the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act as a tax on Americans. Jindal—widely considered to be somewhere near the top of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's short list of potential running mates—says Obama's approach to solving the country's economic ills, in sum, has been a failure by any measure. "The President's entire plan to get the economy back on track is to emulate Europe. He wants higher taxes, more spending and more borrowing. The notion that we can borrow our way to prosperity, the notion that government creates jobs, the notion that we can spend our way to opportunity is just flawed and does not work in the real world." Read the full column here.
Number of EBR building permits down slightly in June, but valuation way up
At 2,018, the number of building permits issued in East Baton Rouge Parish in June was down 2% compared to those issued in June 2011, according to a new report out today by the city-parish Department of Public Works. The report says the number of commercial projects permitted rose to 90 in June, compared to 74 in June last year. Fewer residential permits were issued: 127, compared to 169 in June 2011. The largest project receiving a permit on the month was the new school to be built at 855 Progress Road. The two-story, 86,500-square-foot facility is valued at $14.9 million in the report. Another large project—a new student housing apartment complex planned on West McKinley Street and valued at $13.2 million—helped pushed total valuation of permits in June up 55% compared to June 2011. A total of $81.4 million worth of projects were permitted, compared to $52.5 million in June last year.
Zachary chamber picks new director as marketing campaign kicks off
Kate MacArthur has been selected to be the new executive director for economic development for the Zachary Chamber of Commerce. MacArthur is the former director of business intelligence for BRAC, a position she left last year to become director of marketing and existing industry at the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. She replaces David "Chip" Mills. MacArthur comes on board as the Zachary Chamber, the city of Zachary and the Zachary Community School District begin a new collaborative marketing campaign, hoping to use the community's top-ranked schools as a draw for new businesses. The campaign, dubbed "SmartPlus," or "Smart+," kicks off with an event tonight, 6:30 p.m., at the Copper Mill Community Center. —David Jacobs
Fed meeting minutes show apprehension of economic downturn
Most Federal Reserve policymakers agreed at a meeting last month that they might need to take further action to support growth if the U.S. economy loses momentum. Minutes of that meeting, released today, confirm that Fed officials signaled concern that the struggling U.S. economy could worsen if Congress fails to avert tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts that kick in at the end of the year. They also expressed worries that Europe's debt crisis will weigh on U.S. growth. Members predicted the economy should continue to grow moderately, but the Fed lowered its growth forecast at the meeting after seeing reports of slowed consumer spending and a weakened U.S. job market. Chairman Ben Bernanke could offer some indication of the Fed's plans next week when he delivers the central bank's updated economic assessment to Congress. Bernanke told reporters after the June meeting that he was open to another round of bond purchases if the job market does not improve. Bloomberg has posted the complete minutes here.
News roundup: Jindal orders continuation of hiring freeze … New CEO takes helm at LITE … State receives 10,300 voucher applications
Another year: Gov. Bobby Jindal announced today he has signed an executive order continuing a limited hiring freeze for the executive branch of state government. The order will remain in effect throughout fiscal year 2013, ending June 30 next year. Jindal says the limited hiring freeze—the details of which you can read about at his website here—will achieve at least $13 million in savings for the state's general fund. The state's elected officials and the Louisiana Legislature aren't covered by the governor's order.
Shine a light: Kam Ng, who was tapped in April to help lead the Lafayette-based Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise as CEO, has officially started his new position. Ng is relieving Robert Twilley, who has served as the interim CEO for LITE since November 2010. Ng is joining the LITE team after retiring from the Office of Naval Research as the deputy director for research. Learn more about Ng at the LITE website here.
Finding seats: The Louisiana Department of Education announced today that the state has received more than 10,300 student applications for the new statewide voucher program that begins in August and will use tax dollars to send children to private and parochial schools. Also today, state Superintendent of Education John White released the criteria for participation in the Louisiana Scholarship Program. If the number of applicants exceeds the number of seats available at a specific school and grade level, then those scholarship seats will be awarded through a prioritized lottery process the week of July 16.