…actually, no we don’t. It’s fairly obvious why The Advocate won’t publish a letter trashing John Bel Edwards’ Medicaid expansion as a fiscal time bomb – The Advocate is in the business of hiding that information, just as it’s in the business of obfuscating the fact that Louisiana has the worst job growth in the country.
But if The Advocate won’t publish Steve Gardes’ letter, then we will. So here it is, in all its unedited glory.
Dear Advocate Editor –
I note that my previous Letter to the Editor dated July 9th (see below) was never published. In light of the importance of the content with respect to the financial soundness of the State of Louisiana, I am respectfully resubmitting the letter for publication. I am hopeful that after further consideration, the Advocate will likewise agree that the residents of Louisiana should be made aware of the issues raised in this letter prior to the upcoming elections on October 12th – – and the best way to do that is to hear the candidates for governor debate these issues in the upcoming TV debates scheduled to start as early as September 19th.
Many States are facing Budgetary Problems as a result of Exploding Medicaid Costs –
Louisiana’s cost of its Medicaid program has doubled in the last ten years, increasing from $1.7 billion to $3.3 billion by 2018. Unlike Washington, the states are required by law to balance their budgets. About half of the states in America are now facing major budgetary problems as a result of the exploding cost of Medicaid, and they are all resorting to cuts in education and transportation to balance their budgets. Unfortunately, Louisiana has been forced to do the same – – and the damage being inflicted on our roads, bridges, and public school system are approaching CRISIS levels. Medicaid cost on average have increased $160 million every year for the last 10 years, and is definitely the elephant in the back of the room. However, to put things in proper perspective, Louisiana teachers got their first pay raise in 10 years – – which will cost the state $50 million every year – – and that was a major deal based on media coverage and current political advertisements. Over this same ten year period we have increased spending on Medicaid by $1.6 billion per year, while increased spending on Teachers has only been $50 million per year. Why has Medicaid been deemed such a high priority over the education of our children?
Louisiana Must Plan for Future Increased Cost of Medicaid –
All successful businesses prepare Business Plans that incorporate multi-year financial projections and their plan to pay for these future expenditures. So it should be of no surprise when the blue ribbon panel called The Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy, who was placed into service in 2016 when Governor Edwards “inherited a $1 billion deficit” when he came into office, made the recommendation that multi-year spending forecast for Medicaid be implemented as part of the Budgetary process. The Task Force also cautioned the Governor and the Legislature to not cherry pick the recommendations, but to implement all of their recommendations as part of a comprehensive plan.
What has been a surprise, however, is that all we hear and read about is the total shock of the Legislature every year about the Louisiana Department of Health’s (LDH) increased budget to fund Medicaid. I do not ever recall hearing about what the projected cost of Medicaid in 3-5 years will be, and what is the Administration’s plan to pay for it.
What has been shocking, however, is The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) projections which show that Louisiana’s Medicaid Costs are projected to increase to $6.1 billion per year by 2026 !!! This $2.8 billion projected increase in annual spending represents an average increase of $350 million every year for the next eight years !!! This is sheer insanity as there is no way the state can afford to do this – – we could barely find $50 million for our Teachers this year alone. Yet, none of our political leaders in Baton Rouge are talking about this. Why not ? Hasn’t LDH warned them of this fast approaching storm ? Accordingly, I have taken the liberty to copy Legislators who have expressed concerns in the past over the fiscal direction of the state and the exploding cost of Medicaid.
In Closing –
I hope the Editor will consider the Letter below to be worthy of publication during the current political election season, and that it will be of benefit to both Democrats and Republicans alike.
Respectfully Submitted –
Steve Gardes, CPA