Workers and patients of the Huey P. Long Medical Center (HPLMC) in Pineville, central Louisiana (“CEN-LA” as known by locales there) have observed that the hospital has been effectively closed for the past few months. Yes, its Emergency Department has been officially “open”, yet two doctors testified May 6 (see House H&W Video link) before the Louisiana House Health and Welfare Committee that they had been prohibited by LSU from admitting patients. March 30th saw Tulane University’s largest medical residency program with rotations outside the greater New Orleans area being forced to curtail operations at HPLMC. And for likely almost the past year and a half, the hospital’s budget has been slashed significantly more than the 35% threshold at which under Louisiana law it is impermissible to accomplish in any one fiscal year.
Yet seemingly, even as the stage appears all but certain for Senate Concurrent Resolution 48 to legislatively ordain Huey P. Long’s closure will pass out of the full Louisiana House this Wednesday, the level of discord both in the legislature, the Alexandria-Pineville-CENLA community as well as within the Jindal/LSU administration may also be signaling that, climaxing with yet another CMS advisory warning of another budget shortfall due to impermissible federal financial participation with Medicaid funding, the Jindal privatization train might be getting ready to slide off its rails.
The question remains in the short run whether a 53+ vote majority of the Louisiana House will proclaim THIS week that “Enough is Enough.” To be sure, there remains at least three dozen Democrats, Republicans and Independents that have already attempted to restore Huey P. Long’s FY 2014-15 funding. To secure another three dozen representatives, this blog proposes to remind readers that such a coalition was assembled twice before in the past two years. First this occurred with the November 2012 Special Session attempt (which met its House vote threshold for a legislative-wide vote but failed by 3 votes in the Louisiana Senate), and the 69-28 Louisiana House passage of HCR 74 (which had it been allowed a Louisiana Senate hearing and passage would have mandated legislative committee approval of LSU Charity Hospital system privatizations — instead of the Jindal administration’s roughshod implementation of them without legislative oversight).
Review of the highlighted links detailing vote totals of these two skirmishes for legislative independence perhaps stretch this blogger’s imagination to a wild surreal dimension. Yet as occurred in House Health and Welfare just a week ago, the 10-8 narrow vote to ordain into permanence Huey P. Long Medical Center’s current closure will be guaranteed to be a hard-fought affair in the full House — which may also yield yet additional reversals not unlike experienced by Louisiana public educators and state retirement system advocates — and perhaps loud enough to shout to the nation that U.S. Presidential aspirant Piyush Jindal will be on prime time in a way he had not counted on.
Contact members of the Louisiana House to urge REJECTION of SCR 48. It is Scheduled for floor debate on 5/14/2014:
HEALTH CARE – Provides for legislative approval of and support to the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University for the strategic collaboration with the state in creating a new model of health care delivery in the Alexandria and Pineville area. (by closing the name sake hospital honoring Louisiana’s iconic Governor Huey P. Long).