Friday, December 21, 2012

Only without call centers and nukes

Who knew that when Louisiana elected an Indian-American governor, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, the dude would govern the place like it was . . . India?

I mean, we all knew that the Gret Stet wasn't really American or anything -- historically, it had been high-functioning Caribbean or Latin American at best. But Caribbean nations don't have "untouchables" as part of their caste systems.

Now Louisiana does. And it seems that this new bottom-feeding class in the bottom-feeder among the 50 states is growing exponentially by the day, soon to encompass everyone not named Bobby Jindal.

My prediction for the new year is that Louisiana's only growth industry will be the Missionaries of Charity. You know, Mother Teresa's order. The folks who pick dying people out of Calcutta gutters and care for them until the end.

The nuns who, by the way, have been in Baton Rouge for years, now. Where they now will be able to pick up the dying from God-knows-where after they've been abandoned by the state's social-service system due to yet another round of cuts to the Louisiana state budget.

THIS IS because the state has eliminated not only home hospice care for the terminally ill from its Medicaid coverage, reports the Times-Picayune, but indeed all hospice care.
Cuts to hospice care announced by state officials last week are deeper than originally portrayed, eliminating hospice treatment for all Medicaid recipients starting in February, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said Wednesday. In announcing the reductions to hospice care, which aims to make dying people more comfortable in the last six months of their lives, Jindal administration officials said the cutbacks would force people on Medicaid to seek the service in a nursing home. But the change actually means the state is eliminating all hospice care – both at home and in nursing facilities -- to people covered by Medicaid.

Jamey Boudreaux, executive director of the Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, said he learned from the health department earlier this week that the initial characterization of the cut was a “misstatement.”

In an email, Kathleen Meyers, a spokeswoman for the state health agency, confirmed that the hospice cuts are a “service elimination.”

“Effective Feb. 1, 2013, Medicaid will no longer reimburse for hospice services,” Meyers wrote. People currently in hospice will keep those services through the rest of their lives.

Most people in hospice in Louisiana are elderly and, therefore, have their end-of-life care covered by Medicare, Boudreaux said. But more than 5,800 Medicaid patients received hospice benefits this year, according to state figures.

This care is usually provided in patients’ homes, where they are most comfortable, Boudreaux said. Hospice workers include not only doctors and nurses, but social workers and a chaplain, who meet to reassess the treatment plan for terminally ill patients every 15 days, he said.

While cutting hospice care is slated to trim the state portion of the Medicaid budget by $1.1 million, Boudreaux predicted it wouldn’t actually result in savings. This is because many dying people will end up at hospitals, where Medicaid will pay for at least a portion of their care.

“I predict they will spend at least four times that amount in emergency room visits and hospitalization of those type of folks,” Boudreaux said.
STUPID is one thing. Despicable is another. But when a state can combine stupid and despicable in a single public-policy debacle, it may be onto something. Or collectively on something . . . one or the other.

What is clear, however, is what Jindal -- and Louisiana -- regards as a "sacred cow."

That would the absolute right of Louisianians not to give a damn and for their "government" -- such as it is -- not to function worth a damn.

As always is the case in your average Third World hellhole, it's the "untouchables" who get to pay the price for the self-centered folly of their "betters" -- such as they are.

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