In an address to 500 members of the capital area business community today at the Baton Rouge Business Report's Leadership Power Breakfast, Governor Bobby Jindal continued to lay out his vision for facing the state's long-term budget challenges and ensuring Louisiana's economy continues to outperform the South and nation.
Recounting numerous statistics that show the strength of Louisiana's economy in the past two years, Governor Jindal said the results are not an accident, instead they are the result of his administration's concerted and unwavering effort to grow the state's economy by keeping taxes low, reducing government spending and providing businesses with the tools they need to succeed in a global economy.
Governor Jindal said, "I have said that we will not raise taxes and we will not do anything to threaten the continued economic growth of our Louisiana businesses. We know our approach to protect our economy is not politically expedient. This is a long-term approach for the health of Louisiana's future.
"Some may argue that it is easier to pass the bill onto the Louisiana taxpayers and refuse to make the hard decisions of how to make government live within its means. It would be much easier to just keep government spending the same and turn a blind eye to the economic realities we are facing. But, we will not do that. Our people deserve better. They deserve leaders that will put the needs of the taxpayers above the needs of government."
Governor Jindal cited steps his administration is taking in the areas of health care and higher education to do more with less and still keep moving Louisiana forward.
Emphasizing federal reductions to the state's healthcare funding that make up the largest part of the state's budget challenges, the Governor highlighted an agreement he announced yesterday between LSU and Our Lady of the Lake Hospital (OLOL) that will save the state money and transform the way healthcare is delivered in Louisiana.
The Governor said if the faulty federal FMAP formula is not quickly corrected in Washington, D.C., it will cost the state $500 million a year in Medicaid funding, which will impact services for the poorest in our state, and often those who need care the most. He also said that federal changes to disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding will cost the state around $200 million in federal health care funds, which will directly impact LSU hospitals, rural hospitals and mental health care services.
Governor Jindal said the state will make a $14 million to expand OLOL as part of a public-private partnership that will save the state $400 million by building onto existing facilities to better-serve Medicaid patients in Baton Rouge while improving the educational experience of LSU's graduate medical school students.
The Governor called the agreement the first major step in addressing Louisiana's healthcare challenges and he said it will shape the vision of what a modern, transformative system of care will look like in the state.
Governor Jindal noted that the state is working to transition the Louisiana Medicaid program from the current fee-for service delivery system to two integrated care models. One, he said, is an option for an enhanced fee-for-service Coordinated Care Network, and the other permits a Coordinated Care Network to choose to function as a prepaid integrated health network.
Governor Jindal said, "Our vision is designed around key principles like consumer choice, community leadership, aligned incentives for improved outcomes, and changing consumer behavior.
"The most important attribute is that our Medicaid enrollees can expect greater coordination of care between their primary physician and specialists required to manage chronic conditions and improve overall health."
On higher education, the Governor emphasized that the state's challenges are not solely about funding. He noted that in working with the Postsecondary Education Review Commission (PERC), the state has taken important first steps already in addressing the real challenges in Louisiana's higher education system -- achieving performance and results.
Governor Jindal said, "Too often, the debate on higher education loses sight of our number one concern -- what is best for students. When we focus on students, we all agree that Louisiana's second lowest graduation rate in the nation -- at only 38 percent -- must change. We can do better, and our students deserve to get the education they need to compete in today's 21st century workforce."
Governor Jindal said higher education officials should have more autonomy over their schools and students, but two goals must be met first. First, graduation rates must be improved, and second, the system must ensure that students are getting the specialization they need to succeed in the workforce.
Governor Jindal said, "As these two goals are met, we want higher education officials to have more autonomy over their schools. This means as they show improvement in strengthening student achievement and improve graduation rates, they are able to take more direct control over their fees, tuition and program decisions. We must all work together to focus higher education on achieving results for our students. I know we all agree that the higher education discussion isn't about boards and structure and administration. at the end of the day, it must be about students."