S.C. Politico Drawing Jindal Comparisons
Pundits and bloggers understandably see shades of Gov. Bobby Jindal in an emerging political rock star from the South Carolina House of Representatives. Her name is Nikki Haley and, at 37 years old, she's setting her sights on becoming the next governor of the Palmetto State (she announced earlier this month). Haley describes herself as a fiscally conservative Republican and polls well in many parts of the state. Additionally, her parents immigrated to America from the same region of India where Jindal's family is rooted. And, like Jindal, who enjoys sharing his story about converting to Catholicism, Haley has been asked by reporters and others on the campaign trail to elaborate on her own conversion to the Methodist faith. As for potential or real presidential ambitions, however, Jindal has the market cornered. To learn more about our governor's political doppelganger, visit www.nikkihaley.com. — Alford
Rx for Emergency Aid
It has been nearly four years since Hurricane Katrina left an indelible physical and political mark on Louisiana, and lawmakers are finally advancing legislation that would address why hordes of volunteer physicians, pharmacists, nurses and others were turned away from the impact zone in August and September 2005. Several media accounts from that memorable storm season tell how state and federal officials in Baton Rouge wouldn't allow hundreds of volunteer health care professionals into the area. In an effort to avoid a similar episode in the future, Sen. Sherri Smith Cheek, R-Keithville, is pushing Senate Bill 107, also known as the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act. It would allow emergency medical personnel not licensed in Louisiana to offer assistance during emergencies such as hurricanes. More than a dozen other states have beat Louisiana to the punch on this law over the past two years, including some with high elevations such as Colorado, Kentucky and Tennessee. — Alford
Um, About Our Pay ...
The Louisiana State Medical Society released a statement last week calling on Gov. Bobby Jindal and lawmakers to restore about $42 million that's slated to be cut from Medicaid physicians' payments. Medical society executive director Dave Tarver says in 2007, Medicaid payments increased to an average of 90 percent of Medicare rates, and since that time the number of physicians providing services to Medicaid patients has increased by more than 11 percent. Slight increases in reimbursements brought many physicians back into the program, he says, but increased operating costs are forcing many to pull out now. Tarver suggests even more would leave if the cuts are enacted and, what's worse, they may stay gone. "Given the drastic nature of these cuts, many physicians will choose to get off the roller coaster and leave the program with no intention of returning," Tarver says. — Alford
Follow The Money Online
Last week marked the deadline for new financial disclosure requirements for most of Louisiana's public officials, and a sprinkling of the reports can now be viewed online at www.ethics.state.la.us/pfdisclosure. The lion's share of reports hasn't been filed yet, especially from members of the state House and Senate. Most of the reports won't be filed until later this fall because the law grants extra time to any officials claiming an extension on their income taxes. Meanwhile, several statewide elected and appointed officials have filed reports, and the state Ethics Board is working to scan them so they can be published online — but dozens of other reports from local boards and commissions are ready for review online. — Alford