Saturday, November 22, 2014

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Posted by on in Latest News
Dr. Daniel Bausch thought they had whipped Ebola again.

It was May, and Bausch, a doctor at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, was leaving Guinea after fighting the deadly virus there for three weeks.

But by June, it was clear that Ebola had spread in dangerous ways.
Bausch returned to West Africa, this time to Sierra Leone. For three more weeks, he donned a biohazard suit each morning and treated people suffering from the scourge well into the evening.

One day, the nurses went on strike to protest the terrible conditions, and he and another doctor were left to treat 55 patients. Blood, vomit and feces littered the floor.

On the day he left, Sierra Leone's foremost Ebola doctor got infected. Bausch had worked by his side. The African doctor died, as have another 10 doctors and nurses with whom he has worked.
 
Despite the deadly menace, Bausch continues to believe the virus must be fought at the source.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
Posted by on in Latest News
A major U.S. public health organization has become the second group impacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's Ebola response policy as it prepares to bring 14,000 people to New Orleans.
 
State health officials advised the American Public Health Association that registrants recently returned from Ebola-stricken countries and those who have treated patients stateside should stay home.
 
''We vigorously disagree. It's not scientifically based, as it needs to be,'' Dr. George Benjamin, executive director of the APHA, said Friday. ''We respect their right to have that opinion. We will abide by it and share it with our members.''
 
The conference is scheduled for Nov. 15-19.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
 
A state investigator accused of witness tampering will have to testify about his contact with a witness in the civil suit a company filed against the state of Louisiana, a state district judge ruled Tuesday (Oct. 7) in a Baton Rouge courtroom.

Client Network Services Inc. filed a wrongful termination suit against the state on May 6, 2013, after Gov. Bobby Jindal canceled the company's contract -- the largest ever awarded in state history -- to process Medicaid claims. CNSI, which is also the partial target of a simultaneously ongoing criminal investigation into the awarding of the contract, claimed Scott Bailey, an inspector in the Office of the Attorney General, said or did something to cause a witness in the civil case to change his deposition. State prosecutors deny Bailey committed any wrongdoing and maintained their right to question witnesses at any time.

CNSI's attorney Louis Unglesby suggested in court Tuesday that CNSI employee Steve Smith, who wrote a whistleblower email that eventually prompted investigations into the contract award, penned the email only after being intimidated by CNSI's competitors. That came through during Smith's first round of testimony given May 1, 2014, Unglesby said.

Read the full story at NOLA.com.
The state wrongly paid $2.7 million for Medicaid health insurance for prisoners over a nearly two-year period, according to a legislative auditor’s report released Monday.

The questionable spending occurred in the Jindal administration’s new privatized Medicaid programs — Bayou Health and the Behavioral Health Partnership.

The audit found the state Department of Health and Hospitals paid the private companies $2.68 million in “participant fees” for 2,736 incarcerated individuals in violation of federal Medicaid policy. The improper payments occurred between Feb. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2013.

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office had earlier found DHH making Medicaid payments for dead people during the same period.

A November 2013 report identified $1.85 million in payments for Medicaid health insurance coverage for more than 1,700 dead people.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
A Bossier City nonprofit that exposes middle and high school students to health ca­reers has borrowed money to stay afloat in the past three years.

The North Louisiana Area Health Education Center ended its 2013 budget year $305,250 in the red, according to an audit released by the Leg­islative Auditor’s Office this morning.

The organization puts on programs such as Day with the Doctors at LSU Health Shreve­port; AHEC of a Summer, a medical careers camp; and M*A*S*H, a two-week pro­gram that focuses on allied health careers.

Federal and state grants passed through state agencies account for most of the or­ganization’s income. Since 2011, the organization has bor­rowed about $210,000 to cover operating costs. One of the loans was secured with an en­dowment intended to provide a $2,500 one-time scholarship for a doctor interested in rural medicine.

The audit found the agency owed federal and state taxes withheld from employee pay and faces Internal Revenue Service penalties. NLAHEC also is repaying the state Shots for Tots conference funding after the agency did not receive a state contract for the conference or state Shots for Tots funding for the 2014 budget year. The repay­ments of $8,000 a month start­ed in March.

In a written response to au­ditors, NLAHEC executive di­rector Susan Moreland blamed the financial problems on a fired finance director. More­land said in the written re­sponse a new finance director was hired in 2013.

An investigative audit re­leased in early 2013 showed Moreland had improper or un­documented travel expenses between 2011 and 2012. The re­port also showed Moreland awarded a $24,000 contract to someone with whom she shares a house. Auditors also expressed concern about miss­ing documents such as con­tracts that could violate the state’s public records law.
 
Courtesy of The Shreveport Times.
Louisiana's five House Republicans Tuesday urged Louisiana's two senators to put a hold on President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services until "she agrees to provide equitable treatment" under the Affordable Care Act.

The nominee is Sylvia Burwell, currently director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, who, if confirmed by the Senate, would replace Kathleen Sebelius as HHS secretary.

In their letter to Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La., the five Louisiana GOP House members, led by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said the law is "wreaking havoc on our economy and creating hardships for hard-working taxpayers who received cancellation letters for their health insurance policies due to unworkable ACA requirements."

The letter, which was signed by Reps. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, John Fleming, R-Minden and Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, said the law is being implemented unfairly -- with businesses over 50 workers being given more time to provide mandated health insurance coverage for employees, while there's been no waiver of penalties for individuals who don't obtain health coverage.

Read the full story at NOLA.com.

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CGI Federal, the company that plans to open a Lafayette technology center welcomed Monday by Gov. Bobby Jindal, was the primary contractor for the healthcare.gov website last fall when the site’s malfunction­ing led to talk of a “death spiral” that would bring down the Af­fordable Care Act.

Jindal has been an outspoken opponent of the ACA, the legis­lative centerpiece of President Ba­rack Obama’s first term. The governor refused to let Louisiana set up one of the health exchanges as called for by the ACA, and he has blocked the ACA’s expansion of enrollment in Medicaid, the joint state-fed­eral health coverage program for low-income people.

Jindal offered his praise for CGI Monday, saying the 400 jobs CGI plans to bring to La­fayette will help make the state more attractive to its own tal­ented young people, allowing them to make a good living in Louisiana.

On Tuesday, when Jindal’s of­fice was asked for comment about the company’s ties to the Affordable Care Act, Louisiana Economic Development Secre­tary Stephen Moret provided this reply to The Daily Adver­tiser via email: “With 68,000 employees, more than $10 billion in reve­nue, and offices located in 40 countries, CGI is one of the larg­est IT services firms in the world,” Moret said. “The firm’s work on Healthcare.gov repre­sented less than one percent of its business and had no impact on our discussions with the company. We are proud that CGI will be developing a major  technology center here in Lafayette.”
 
Read the full story at The Daily Advertiser.
The Jindal administration embarked on a statewide initiative Monday, encouraging schools, businesses and other entities to promote health and wellness.

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced the start of “Well-Ahead Louisiana” at Baton Rouge’s Dufrocq Elementary School, which already is pushing healthy eating and exercise.

The program is being promoted as a way to bring healthy living practices to Louisiana residents wherever they go.

Those participating entities that meet certain state-established criteria would be recognized as “well spots.” Participation is voluntary.

“It’s about improving the quality of life for all our people,” Jindal said.

State health agency officials and leaders in the restaurant, health care and business communities joined Jindal.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
 
The median cost for long-term care in Louisiana remains well below the national level, although Louisiana’s costs have grown more over the last five years than nationally, according to Genworth’s 11th annual Cost of Care Survey.

The median annual cost for an assisted living facility in Louisiana is $37,875, compared with $42,000 nationally, the survey shows. The cost has increased 5.6 percent a year over the past five years in Louisiana, compared with 4.3 percent nationally. Half of the assisted living facilities cost more than the median and half cost less.

The Cost of Care Survey covers close to 15,000 long-term care providers in 440 regions throughout all 50 states and 384 metro areas.

The annual cost of an assisted living facility in the Baton Rouge area is $36,720, up 8 percent over the past five years; in New Orleans, $43,140, up 3 percent; and in Lafayette, $32,220, up 3 percent.

Meanwhile, home health aides’ pay has remained flat over the past five years, while the hourly service charge for that service has increased by 0.7 percent. The median hourly pay for an aide is $15.

“It is well known that most Americans do not have traditional pensions and many have saved far too little in their 401(k) plans or other products. For the vast majority of Americans, long term care costs are not covered by Medicare and Medicaid provides coverage only after life long savings have been nearly exhausted. Given these factors, private long term care insurance remains one of the most effective ways for Americans to prepare for this potentially significant expense later in life,” McInerney said.
 
Courtesy of The Advocate.
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals this summer plans to roll out managed care for dental services through Medicaid and LaCHIP similar to the Bayou Health initiative started in 2012.

Bayou Health, the state's Medicaid-managed care program, went live Feb. 1, 2012. The dental managed care pro-gram is expected to go live July 1.

DHH has recommend-ed Managed Care of North America Dental for the contract as dental benefits program manager to provide dental service for 1.2 million Medicaid and LaCHIP recipients.

Wendy Cranford, who oversees the medical clinics in Ouachita Parish schools, hopes the transition will be smooth, otherwise she fears some dentists may opt to discontinue service to Medicaid recipients.

A large percentage of students who receive dental care at Ouachita Parish School System's medical clinics are LaCHIP recipients, Cranford said. Too often students have never seen a dentist until they arrive at the medical clinic for dental care.
 
Read the full story at The News-Star.
When veterans in East Baton Rouge Parish need help navigating the complex bureaucratic system of services available to them, they head to an office off North Boulevard that leaks when it rains, has mold and doesn't get warm when it's cold outside. Officials say the electrical system is outdated, so computers and other devices sometimes short out.

"It's unacceptable; it's deplorable; it's unsafe," said Earnest Buckner Jr., regional manager for the state Department of Veterans Affairs. "It's still leaking -- it has not been fixed. We have to put trashcans out to collect the water."

Under Louisiana law, parishes must provide space for the state Veterans Affairs offices to operate locally. Buckner recently complained to the Metro Council that East Baton Rouge Parish isn't providing a suitable space, and the veterans unit has been considering ceasing operations there out of safety concerns for employees and the veterans they serve. He estimated that the office serves about 650 veterans per month.

"We're dealing with a lot of issues over there. It doesn't have adequate locks on the building, and there's tape on the carpet," Buckner said. "It's not safe for our employees."
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
 
The Louisiana Legislature will consider adopting restrictions on abortion providers similar to those that shut down several facilities in Texas and threaten to shutter Mississippi's one remaining abortion clinic.

State Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, has introduced a bill to require doctors that perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility. The legislation also would impose the same restrictions -- including a 24-hour waiting period -- on abortions induced by medication as those carried out through surgery.

Anti-abortion advocates say the proposed changes would protect women and raise the standard of health care at clinics. Abortion-rights supporters have said the regulations are onerous and solely implemented to restrict access to the procedure.

Similar limitations on abortion providers have led at least 19 abortion clinics in Texas to close since new laws were passed last summer. The lone remaining clinic in Mississippi is fighting that state's admitting privileges requirement in court. If it loses the case, the facility in Jackson will have to close, and Mississippi will become the first state without any abortion providers.
 
Read the full story at NOLA.com.
On Tuesday, members of the Louisiana congressional delegation submitted a letter to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki requesting a face-to-face meeting to discuss the future of funding for clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles that has been in limbo for the past two years.

Legislation that could push the clinics and 25 other VA clinic projects toward completion is pending after a nearly two-year delay due to a change in how the federal government calculates VA leases.

In Tuesday's letter, delegates requested that Shinseki respond by March 1, acknowledging his support of the authorization of the clinics or to detail his concerns with the legislation, so the issues could be resolved.

Plans to expand the existing VA outpatient clinic in Lafayette began in 2010; however, a paperwork error detected in early 2012 delayed the Lafayette and Lake Charles projects. The changes in how VA leases are calculated further delayed the projects.

"The veterans of Louisiana have waited long enough to have access to the quality care we have promised them, and our delegation is ready to take any action necessary to end these needless delays," the delegates wrote in Tuesday's letter.

The letter was signed by the entire Louisiana delegation: U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter and U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany, Bill Cassidy, John Fleming, Vance McAllister, Cedric Richmond and Steve Scalise.
 
Courtesy of The Advocate.
 

Posted by on in Latest News
Abortion rights supporters claimed success Tuesday as the state health agency scrapped new rules for outpatient abortion facility licensing, but said they remain leery of what comes next.

"We consider it to be a great victory," New Orleans lawyer Ellie T. Schilling said.

Schilling said opponents of the proposed rules hope that the state Department of Health and Hospitals "will come back with commonsense regulations in consultation with the providers that will be effective and not come back with similar onerous restrictions."

"We were loud and we were heard," said Bethany Van Kampen, a New Orleans Abortion Fund member. But, she added, "This is far from over" and promised a similar protest if DHH insists on regulations like the ones scuttled that would shut down clinics and unconstitutionally restrict a woman's access to abortion.

Louisiana Right to Life Federation Executive Director Benjamin Clapper said the rules will "look much better the second time around ... as they modify and improve our abortion facility regulations."

"DHH was wise to take a step back to make sure they could withstand legal challenges ... especially when you have a whole legion of abortion attorneys going to sue them if they put this in place," Clapper said in an interview.

Read the full story at The Advocate.

Posted by on in Latest News
Given Imaging Ltd. said Monday it has won U.S. approval for an ingestible pill camera that can help doctors screen the large intestine for polyps and other early signs of colon cancer.

The Israeli company’s technology, developed from missile defense systems, uses a battery-powered camera to take high-speed photos of the intestinal tract over the course of eight hours. The images are transmitted to a recording device worn around the patient’s waist and later reviewed by a doctor.

Analysts originally expected Given’s approach to directly compete with traditional colonoscopy procedures. But company studies found that the images taken by the mini-camera are not quite as clear as those from the in-office procedure. As a result, the company has pursued a more limited market for its PillCam: patients who have trouble undergoing standard colonoscopies.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the company’s PillCam Colon for patients who have experienced an incomplete colonoscopy. The company estimates 750,000 U.S. patients are not able to complete the procedure each year, due to anatomy issues, previous surgery or various colon diseases.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
Doctors, hospitals and other providers aren't getting paid for the care they deliver to a quarter-million state employees and retirees insured through the Office of Group Benefits.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana recently took over, in a private contract, the management of the agency that had overseen health care coverage for state employees and retirees.

Blue Cross notified the state by letters that payments would be delayed while computer programs were upgraded.

Patients should not be affected, according to Blue Cross, but physicians and health care providers may not get paid for six to eight weeks.

The computer alterations deal with health plans benefit changes made by the state agency and were finalized Dec. 11, according to a letter from Brian Keller, a senior vice president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

Blue Cross also partly blamed adjustments needed to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
 
 Loyola University's online program leading to a master's degree in nursing tied for sixth in that category in the United States in U.S. News & World Report's 2014 Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

This marks the program's third consecutive appearance in the survey's top 10. Although Loyola offers a doctor of nursing practice degree, the magazine's survey ranked only the nursing school's master's degree program, Loyola spokeswoman Mikel Pak said.

Loyola tied for sixth place in this category with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, the University of Alabama - Huntsville and the University of Texas Medical Branch - Galveston.

Loyola's online undergraduate nursing program, which leads to a bachelor of science degree, ranked 32nd in the U.S. News survey of online undergraduate programs.

This is the only online undergraduate program Loyola offers, Pak said. It is designed for registered nurses seeking a bachelor's degree in that field.
 
Courtesy of NOLA.com.
 
Gov. Bobby Jindal's overhaul of a public hospital system that serves the poor and uninsured while providing medical training to future doctors has a high-risk financial structure that could leave the state with significant financial liabilities within five years.

"The new safety net might not be financial feasible in the later years," according to a report on Louisiana's "charity hospitals" released Friday (Dec. 20) by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, a nonpartisan organization that reviews public policy. 
 
The Jindal administration, touting the move as a way to save the state money while improving patient outcomes, last spring began turning operational responsibility of LSU's statewide network of public hospitals and clinics over to private providers. In addition to saying the state would net more than $100 million in savings in year one alone, administration officials have also said privatization will allow some hospitals and clinics to offer a wider variety of medical services while reducing wait times for appointments.
 
Read the full story at NOLA.com.

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Louisiana's largest medical malpractice insurer will return around $5 million to more than 6,000 of its policyholders in Louisiana and Arkansas in 2014.

The dividend is the seventh that Metairie-based LAMMICO has made to policyholders since 2008. Policyholders will receive 10.5 percent of their 2013 premiums. LAMMICO, formerly known as Louisiana Medical Malpractice Co., adopted its new brand name on Dec. 2. The size of the dividend is based on the company's claims experience.

In 2013, the company determined the cost to pay those claims was lower than originally estimated.

Courtesy of The Advocate.
Continuing his battle with Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., on Tuesday called on Reid to "come clean" on why he reportedly exempted some of his staffers from buying their insurance from the Washington D.C. health care exchanges. 
 
"Millions of Americans are losing the health care plans and doctors they wanted to keep and are facing dramatic premium increases, all as Washington enjoys a special exemption," Vitter said. "I'm asking Sen. Reid to publicly and in writing answer four important questions about his choice to exempt some of his staff from Obamacare. To make it easy, I've offered to have him join me on the Senate floor this afternoon."
 
Read the full story at NOLA.com.
In an effort to assess the effectiveness of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) care in Louisiana, LERN is working on a statewide STEMI initiative to get patients the right care at the right time. 

Click here for a video and here for a power point presentation by Dr. Murtuza Ali (LERN STEMI Medical Director) explaining STEMI and the role of the statewide system of care for this time-critical illness.

Posted by on in Latest News
Rural hospitals in northeastern Louisiana have not seen reductions in personnel or cuts in services because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but rural hospital officials aren't certain how long that will last. Other Republican-controlled states that did not expand Medicaid have reported rural hospitals have laid off workers and reduce services.
 
The Tennessean reports rural hospitals across counties in Nashville have experienced reductions in services and layoffs and some rural hospitals may have to close. West Carroll Health System administrator Randy Morris said staff cuts and service reductions have not happened in the West Carroll Health System. Other rural hospital administrators tell him they have not experienced a negative impact because of the Affordable Care Act. But that doesn't mean Louisiana's rural hospitals won't see cuts in the future, Morris said. "We are not to that point yet. If we get there ... well, that's to be seen," Morris said. "It's still unknown for us because we're just getting started with these changes. The biggest thing we're dealing with is the unknown. If we knew how it would affect us we would know what changes we needed to make, but right now we're in a period of not knowing what to do."
 
Read the full story at The News-Star.

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Measles, a disease that seemed to disappear after vaccination became available in the 1960s, is making a comeback, officials say. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control held a briefing to address increased numbers of cases this year.
 
The majority of outbreaks have been reported in New York and North Carolina, but officials said the cases are a national concern.

"A measles outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere," said CDC Director Tom Frieden in an issued statement. "The steady arrival of measles in the United States is a constant reminder that deadly diseases are testing our health security every day. Someday, it won't be only measles at the international arrival gate, so detecting diseases before they arrive is a wise investment in U.S. health security."
 
Read the full story at The Daily Advertiser.

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The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) announced plans to make sweeping changes to the state's Office of Public Health for its oversight of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) at the beginning of 2014, after an audit released Nov. 25 showed WIC had poor oversight, was overcharged by vendors and didn't follow up with vendors whose products were expired and conditions were unsanitary.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor's office found the state was overcharged more than $600,000, and that the Office of Public Health neglected to verify grocery prices charged through the program. In one example, auditors found that one store had charged the program $21.99 for infant formula, though the program is supposed to cap charges at $14.89. (The New Orleans Health Department estimates more than 66,000 people will visit WIC clinics in New Orleans in 2013.)

Among its changes in 2014: DHH will create an operating manual with clear protocol for WIC employees to use when working with vendors, and a WIC Vendor Monitoring Database will track all WIC-approved vendors. The DHH notes that the USDA must approve the manual and database before they can be used.

The audit arrives as a four-year federal stimulus boost to SNAP benefits ended Nov. 1, which cut services by 7 percent to nearly 1 million people in Louisiana. Meanwhile, Louisiana participants in SNAP increased 20 percent in the same time frame. In a conference call with reporters Nov. 26, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling called the nationwide cuts "harsh and unacceptable at any time, but particularly so as we enter the Thanksgiving and holiday season." — Alex Woodward

Courtesy of The Gambit.
 Louisiana will receive a total $238 million as a result of a series of settlements reached in lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies that overcharged the state's Medicaid program, state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said Wednesday.

But the state won't see that much financial windfall.

State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said between 50 percent and 75 percent of the funds recovered either have been or will be returned to the federal government, which pays the biggest share of Medicaid program costs.

The latest and final settlement - of $88.4 million - was reached earlier this week with 25 companies and their subsidiaries. The deal ended three years of litigation against 109 drug companies and their subsidiaries. Caldwell's 2010 lawsuit, State of Louisiana v. Abbott Laboratories, claimed the companies fraudulently raised drug prices paid by the state through the government health insurance program for the poor.
 
For the full story, visit The Advocate.
 
 
In his latest jab at Hospital Corp. of America, Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts predicts the parish could owe the company at least
$578.8 million at the end of a 30-year lease on the parish's two public hospitals. HCA did not directly refute that figure, but it said Jefferson would need to set aside only about 1/10th of that amount at the close of a lease deal.

The flashpoint centers on a provision in HCA's letter of intent to lease East Jefferson General Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center. The clause requires the parish to pay HCA an amount equal to the depreciated value of its capital investment over a 30-year lease. It's the latest topic of debate in the momentous effort to lease the two hospitals to either HCA or Louisiana Children's Medical Center.

Roberts has aggressively questioned HCA's lease offer. His critique of the depreciation reimbursement provision comes on the heels of his accusation that HCA's property tax projections are "grossly inflated."

East Jefferson General Chairman Newell Normand, Jefferson's sheriff, rebuked the attacks as an unseemly attempt to tarnish the reputation of HCA, which Normand and the East Jefferson board have endorsed for the lease deal. "What does that tell other corporate entities that have a desire to move to this parish?" Normand said, without naming Roberts. "If I was a corporation and I see this crap going on right now, I ain't coming here. If that's the way you get treated, forget about it."
 
Read the full story at NOLA.com.
A top CNSI executive demonstrated insider knowledge and knew in advance the bid amount needed to win the most lucrative contract state government has to offer, a former company employee alleged in a state investigation report made public Friday.
 
An employee identified only as Kunego described for an investigator with the state Department of Justice Public Corruption Unit the meeting company officials held to prepare their bid for a contract to handle billings for the state's Medicaid program.
 
During this January 2011 session, B Chatterjee, CNSI founder and CEO, told participants that they need not go through the exercise of comparing the products and positions of competitors to develop their own proposal by pricing the various services they would offer.
 
Chatterjee "told them that this would not be necessary and the number that they had to beat was under $199 million. This indicated that CNSI officers knew ahead of time the dollar amount that they had to propose to win the contract," according to the report that was unsealed late Thursday by 19th Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley, of Baton Rouge.
 
Chatterjee uses only the initial "B" as his first name on company documents filed with the state and on the company's website. When asked for comment about these and other allegations raised in the Kunego interviews, Sonny Cranch, CNSI Louisiana's spokesman responded saying the report "is factually incorrect." CNSI did not object to releasing the document the state's lawyers had wanted sealed, he said.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
 
A federal judge has determined that new Texas abortion restrictions violate the U.S. Constitution, a ruling that keeps open -- at least for now -- dozens of abortion clinics that were set to halt operations Tuesday had key parts of the law taken effect.

In a decision released Monday that the state is certain to appeal, District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote that the regulations requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital creates an undue obstacle to women seeking an abortion.

"The admitting-privileges provision of House Bill 2 does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman's health and, in any event, places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her," he wrote.

Read the full story at NOLA.com.

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Three weeks after the marketplaces for President Barack Obama's health insurance program opened, the federal government and participating insurance companies won't say how many people in Louisiana have signed up for coverage.

Insurers and a local agency helping people enroll say the number is small but upgrades to HealthCare.gov - the main way to shop and sign up for the health insurance plans - have improved the website's performance.

"Right now it's taking like maybe 90 minutes. It's not bad," said Linda Beauvais, executive director of the Capital Area Agency on Aging, District II, which is helping people navigate the process.

It could be better, she said, noting that sometimes the website drops the application and a person has to start over from scratch. Beauvais said that now happens about a third of the time, compared with almost every time someone tried to apply during the first week the marketplace was open.

Even if the website worked perfectly it would take 45 minutes to an hour to enroll, Beauvais said, because lots of information and choices are involved.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
A Maryland company challenging its abrupt dismissal as Louisiana's Medicaid claims processor cannot expect a fair shake from the state Division of Administration or its commissioner in an administrative appeal, an attorney for the firm told a judge Monday.

"There's no way on God's green Earth they're going to change their mind," argued Michael McKay, who represents Client Network Services Inc., before state District Judge Tim Kelley during a hearing.

The judge is presiding over CNSI's lawsuit against the state.

Attorneys for the state maintain CNSI's lawsuit is premature because the firm did not first go through the state administrative appeals process in challenging the cancellation of its nearly $200 million multi-year contract.

The appeals process goes through the Division of Administration, the office where the contract was canceled.

Read the full story at The Advocate.

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Huey Robinson clocked out at LSU Hospital in Shreveport Monday but will clock in at University Health this morning.
 
A nursing assistant, Robinson is among 2,900 employees who will staff the former public hospital after Biomedical Research Foundation took over operations at midnight. Foundation officials and hospital administrators marked the event with a change of command ceremony Monday night at which they unveiled the hospital's new name.
 
The foundation will operate the former LSU hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe through BRF Hospital Holdings, a nonprofit limited liability company. The transfer is part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's plans to cut costs by moving employees off public payrolls and shifting hospital operating costs.
 
LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport, which previously operated the hospitals, will remain a part of the public LSU System. The medical school received about $30 million a year from the hospital in the past, but contracts with the foundation will replace that direct appropriation.
 
Read the full story at The Shreveport Times.

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A state district judge cleared the way Monday to question former state Health Secretary Bruce Greenstein, under oath, about his involvement in the awarding of one of the state's largest contracts.

State attorneys had sought to stop the Oct. 10 deposition of Greenstein for a civil lawsuit filed by CNSI, which is seeking damages from the state for wrongful contract termination.

The state alleged improper communication between the Maryland company and Greenstein, a former CNSI executive, among its reasons for canceling the nearly $200 million contract earlier this year.

Greenstein, a former member of Gov. Bobby Jindal's cabinet, wants to testify in the case, two lawyers connected to the case said.

"He has no problem giving a deposition so he can tell the story and clear his name, so he can get a job," said John McLindon, Greenstein's personal lawyer. "He had absolutely nothing to do with the awarding of that contract."

"He's not taking the Fifth. He wants to testify," said Lewis Unglesby, who represents CNSI, referring to a constitutional amendment that allows a person to refuse to answer questions that might incriminate him in criminal matters.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.

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Members of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget were not totally happy with the way health care is to be provided in the Alexandria area, but they could do no more than encourage LSU and private providers to do their best to serve the people who depend on what for 75 years has been a charity hospital.

State law requires that the budget committee view contracts that privatize services that normally are provided by state hospitals, but members cannot disapprove of the changes. The panel has already reviewed contracts privatizing hospitals in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Shreveport, Monroe, Houma and Lake Charles.

The cooperative agreement between LSU, which operates Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville, and the pairing of Christus St. Frances Cabrini Medical Center and Rapides Regional Medical Center, both in Alexandria, calls for services to be discontinued at HPL and instead be provided by the hospitals and at medical service clinics to be established by December.

Read the full story at the Town Talk
 
A New Orleans group's quest to change Gov. Bobby Jindal's mind on Medicaid expansion Friday got members as far as the governor's makeshift quarters on the 20th floor of the State Capitol.

Members of The Jeremiah Group, a faith-based community organization, first tried to find the governor in his private office on the fourth floor.

They wheeled a crate packed with letters into the reception area only to find it deserted amid renovations to the historic building. Their next stop was a temporary office on the 20th floor, to which an aide summoned Christina Grantham, the governor's director of constituent services.

"Quite frankly, (we're) begging the governor to care about his people," New Orleans City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell told Grantham.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
Louisiana prosecutors are urging a judge to stick to his legal guns and not allow a Maryland firm's lawsuit against Louisiana to go forward while a grand jury probes a nearly $200 million Medicaid claims processing contract awarded to the company, then canceled earlier this year.
 
Client Network Services Inc. is suing the state over the Jindal administration's sudden cancellation of its contract.
 
State District Judge Tim Kelley, who is presiding over CNSI's lawsuit, ordered a six-month stay of the civil proceedings July 30 after the state Attorney General's Office argued for a second time that such a halt was needed to protect the integrity of the wide-ranging criminal investigation.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
The lease of Jefferson Parish's public hospitals could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of 30 years regardless of which private operator is selected, but a flurry of last-minute revisions has upped the value of Nashville-based HCA's bid to more than $100 million more than its closest competitor, according to documents obtained by The New Orleans Advocate.
 
The three proposals, which have only been discussed behind closed doors, put Louisiana Children's Medical Center and Ochsner Health Systems behind the national for-profit chain. The proposals also show that both HCA and Ochsner are offering other incentives, in the form of property tax revenue or hundreds of new jobs in the parish, on top of the flat amount they would pay up front to take over East Jefferson General Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
A private company that took over management of state behavioral health programs last year has not complied with contract terms, a state audit released Monday found.

The $354 million two-year contract with Magellan Health Services allows the state Department of Health and Hospitals to impose sanctions, but none have been, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor wrote.

The audit was conducted to provide information on implementation and transition issues for the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership. The auditor looked at the experiences of the Capital Area, South Central and Metropolitan Human Services District as well as the Florida Parishes Human Services Authority.

The entities are in DHH's budget. Part of their funding is self-generated.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
 Claiming a state judge's ruling was based on secret evidence, attorneys for CNSI are asking that a six-month stay be lifted in the company's lawsuit challenging the Jindal administration's cancellation of its nearly $200 million contract to process Medicaid claims.

"What has transpired in this case is without precedent in Louisiana law," the attorneys for Maryland-based Client Network Services Inc. claim.

When District Judge Tim Kelley put the civil proceedings in CNSI's suit on hold July 30, he said in open court that he based his decision on investigative files that state prosecutors provided him for a private review.

Kelley had previously refused in May to halt the civil case at the request of the state Attorney General's Office, which is conducting a grand jury investigation into the contract selection process.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
Implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act will be "slower going" in Louisiana, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said Wednesday.

Landrieu placed part of the blame on the state "dragging its feet," including punting to the federal government to establish a health insurance exchange. "It's only hurting itself," said Landrieu, D-La.

Landrieu said the federal government is "scrambling" to get a Louisana exchange open by Oct. 1 that offers residents coverage choice options. So far, the state only has one exchange participant, BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana, which she said has 85 percent of the health insurance business in the state today.

"Louisiana may be slow but it will eventually get there," Landrieu told reporters after a Rotary Club of Baton Rouge speech.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
A decision on a private-sector lease partner for West Jefferson Medical Center and East Jefferson General Hospital appears to be delayed indefinitely. A Jefferson Parish Council executive session planned Wednesday to discuss the issue was canceled within two hours of the end of a closed-door meeting Tuesday of an umbrella board, which had met to hear presentations from the three finalists.

The umbrella board comprising the two hospitals' governing bodies met behind closed doors for nine hours Tuesday to hear presentations from Louisiana Children's Medical Center, Ochsner Health System and Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA.

The presentations were followed by lengthy deliberations, but it was not clear if board members had selected an operator before adjourning.

Read the full story at Nola.com.
 
Lafayette Parish jail officials are working to negotiate a contract that would include discounted payments for the treatment of inmates by Lafayette General Health System, health system officials said Friday.

Under the old system with the state-run University Medical Center, Lafayette Parish inmates got their teeth fixed, brains scanned, lab work completed and HIV treatment calibrated for free.

 Now that the state has transferred the hospital into the private Lafayette General Health System, a contract is being negotiated for the inmate medical care. "There has been no disruption in the health care provided to inmates," LGH spokesman Daryl Cetnar told The Daily Advertiser in a written state-ment. "UHC has continued to provide medical services to inmates - without billing for any of those services - pending execution of this contract. The contract will be signed by representatives from Lafayette General Health and the Department of Corrections."

Read the full story at The Daily Advertiser.
A preliminary plan has been agreed on for two Alexandria hospitals to take over services currently provided by Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville.

Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital and Rapides Regional Medical Center have been in talks for months to take over HPL services as part of the state's push to privatize its LSU-run hospitals.

According to LSU Health Shreveport, which manages HPL, services will be fully transferred on July 1, 2014. HPL will continue to operate until the transfer.

Under the proposed model, Cabrini will handle inpatient psychiatric care, while urgent care and other inpatient care will be shared by the two hospitals. Outpatient care will be provided by clinics throughout the community.

Read the full story at The Town Talk.
Louisiana hospitals that accept Medicaid patients cannot bill those patients for more than the reimbursements received from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a Baton Rouge federal judge ruled this week.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson signed a final judgment in the case of a Calcasieu Parish man for whom Medicaid paid $1,574 for treatments he received in late 2008 at University Medical Center in Lafayette.

After his treatments, the patient, Joseph Taylor Jr., became the target of a lien for an additional $1,005 billed by the Lafayette hospital.

Taylor had received $10,000 in a settlement with the driver of a vehicle that had struck him, causing the injuries for which he was treated in Lafayette.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
A new state law banning the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, while driving, will go into effect on Thursday, August 1. Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the bill into law on May 30 after lawmakers approved it during the 2013 legislative session.

State law already banned texting while driving but did not address the use of social media sites. However, the new law going into effect this week will not ban the general use of the internet on smartphones while driving.
 
Read the full story at the Times-Picayune.

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The Texas Legislature drew throngs of protesters, a 12-hour filibuster and nationwide attention as Re-publicans there fought to pass strict new abortion regulations that could limit the ability for women in the state to seek the procedure.

 Louisiana has many of the same restrictions on the books, but they passed with few significant fights in the Legislature and none of the massive protests. The state has added nearly any legal limit it can find on abortion - and several that courts have said weren't legal.

As they have added new statutes, the bills passed with overwhelming and bipartisan support and with Louisiana lawmakers acknowledging that they hope to lower the number of abortions with each restriction.

Read the full story at The Town Talk.

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Dr. Michael Kaiser will step down from his $350,000-a-year job as chief of the LSU Health Care Services Division effective Aug. 30.
 
Kaiser stepped into the job last fall as the Jindal administration worked toward privatization of six of the seven charity hospitals in south Louisiana under the umbrella of the LSU Health Care Services Division, called HCSD.

In that role, Kaiser presided over the layoff of thousands of state employees who worked at LSU hospitals in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Houma and Lake Charles. Bogalusa hospital employee layoffs are next.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
The American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU), American Urological Association (AUA), and Large Urology Group Practice Association (LUGPA) applauded Representatives Charles Boustany, M.D. (LA-7), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (LA-6) and John Fleming, M.D. (LA-4) for their commitment to preserving patient access to independent, integrated medical services.
 
In a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, dated June 28, 2013, the Representatives, along with 14 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives Physician’s Caucus, expressed their support for the in-office ancillary services exception (IOASE) to federal self-referral regulations (the “Stark” law), which permits physician practices to provide critical services including radiation therapy, diagnostic imaging, pathology and physical therapy in an integrated and coordinated fashion within their respective practices. The letter states in part:
 
“Ancillary services are used on a daily basis by physician practices to provide comprehensive services to patients...Limiting the IOASE would present significant barriers to appropriate screenings and treatments, increase inefficiencies, and make care less accessible.”
 
“Providing comprehensive services to patients through the integration of ancillary services at the point of service improves communications between physicians of different specialties, facilitates the development of coordinated clinical pathways, and enhances the development of disease specific clinical expertise, all of which lead to improved quality at reduced cost,” said Dr. Deepak A. Kapoor, President of LUGPA and Chairman and CEO of Integrated Medical Professionals, PLLC.
 
The IOASE is considered the cornerstone by which physicians in private practice provide an alternative to less convenient and more expensive sites of service. The letter affirmed the utilization of certain ancillary services have actually decreased in recent years.
 
“It’s important to note that the letter stated that the volume of advanced imaging services has slowed significantly, from 13.4 percent growth in 2006 to 5.4 percent in 2007, ” said Dr. David Penson, AUA Health Policy Chair. “Research shows that the utilization of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, or IMRT, to treat prostate cancer in the Medicare population increased by only 2.2 percent from 2007 to 2011, notwithstanding the  approximately 160 percent increase in the number of urologists in practices with ownership of IMRT over that period.”
 
The leadership of physician members of Congress on this issue is particularly timely as President Obama’s budget proposes to repeal the IOASE provision for radiation, advanced imaging, and physical therapy, which would make it illegal for physician practices to integrate these ancillary services into their practices. The result would force more patients to receive these services in a hospital setting, thereby reducing access and increasing costs - evidenced by cardiologists nationwide being forced to sell their practices to hospitals as a consequence of similar restrictions enacted on certain imaging services.
 
“In its June 2011 report to Congress, MedPAC acknowledged the financial impact of shifting these services from the physician office to the hospital,” said Dr. Mark S. Austenfeld, President of the AACU. “More than 75 percent of advanced medical imaging is provided in the hospital, where cost of care is equal or greater than care in the physician office.”
 
The letter reflected the unified desire of the signers to reject the proposed repeal of the IOASE and was signed by 17 members of the Physician’s Caucus of the United States House of Representatives.
 
For more information or a copy of the letter, visit lugpa.org.
 
About AACU
The American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU) is the only national organization to serve urology with the sole purpose of promoting and preserving the professional autonomy and financial viability of each of its members. AACU's resources are dedicated to inform members of the issues affecting their practice and profession, and then to work directly to influence the resolutions of these issues. Forty-five percent of all urologists nationwide are members of the AACU. For more information, visit aacuweb.org.
 
About AUA
Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is a leading advocate for the specialty of urology, and has more than 20,000 members throughout the world. The AUA is a premier urologic association, providing invaluable support to the urologic community as it pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care through education, research and the formulation of health policy. For more information, visit auanet.org.
 
About LUGPA
LUGPA represents 121 large urology group practices in the United States, with more than 2,000 physicians who make up more than 20 percent of the nation’s practicing urologists. LUGPA and its
member practices are committed to best practices, research, data collection and benchmarking to promote quality clinical outcomes. For more information, visit lugpa.org.
 

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In 2009, when Alvarez & Marsal, a national performance auditor, recommended a handful of common-sense business practices that would save taxpayers $72 million a year at the state's Big Charity hospital in New Orleans, I asked for a similar audit of the state's nine other Charity Hospitals. The Charity Hospitals resisted.
 
Now the Jindal Administration has decided to lease nine of Louisiana's Charity Hospitals to private hospital corporations that would take over their operations. The private hospital corporations will pay the state rent, and the state will pay the private hospital corporations to treat our people. The governor says this will save $100 million a year.
 
Read the full story at The Shreveport Times.

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The state corrections agency reversed course on a contract that provides medical care for inmates in state prisons.

Legislators had complained when the state Department of Corrections chose a Texas firm to provide "telemedicine services" to replace LSU.

Telemedicine is the practice of connecting physicians with their patients in different locales via the Internet.

Corrections Undersecretary Thomas Bickham said Monday that talks with LSU have resulted in LSU's School of Medicine retaining the contract to provide services for prisoners in south Louisiana penal facilities. The Texas firm - U.S. Telehealth - will have the telemedicine pact for state prisons in north Louisiana, he said.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.

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The state health agency has yet to get documents demanded from its Medicaid claims processing company months after canceling the contract.

Lawyers for the firm, CNSI, and the state Department of Health and Hospitals are in on-going negotiations over the records as a legal battle continues over the nearly $200 million contract's abrupt end.

The state scrapped the contract with Client Network Services Inc., or CNSI, in late March as news broke of a federal grand jury investigation into the firm's selection and the process used. DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein, a former CNSI executive, resigned a week later.

DHH has been pressing since early April for CNSI to turn over information related to its preparation to take over Medicaid claims processing sometime in 2014. The company would pay claims submitted by hospitals, physicians and other providers who care for the poor. The company had been on the job since February 2012.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
Shaquille O'Neal's announcement that he wants build a children's hospital in Baton Rouge was a surprise to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center officials, who didn't know he was ready to share the news. But at the same time, it was perfectly in character for the basketball great, who has a long history with the Baton Rouge hospital.

"It's not unlike his character and his personality that he just couldn't wait anymore," said John Paul Funes, president and CEO of the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation. "He wanted to tell everybody what we're trying to work toward."

O'Neal announced his partnership with Our Lady of the Lake at a news conference this weekend, at the opening of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame museum.

Read the full story at the Times-Picayune.
Each year, the Louisiana State Medical Society (LSMS) recognizes individuals whose journalistic efforts contributed to a better understanding of medicine and healthcare in Louisiana. We once again invite you to submit your best work in the areas of medicine and healthcare to be considered among the top journalistic efforts in the state. 

Entries will be judged on the basis of accuracy, overall quality, public interest, and educational value. A cash award of $500 and an engraved plaque are presented to winners in each of three categories: print, radio, and television. Winners will be presented their awards at a special luncheon on Thursday, September 19, at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge.

For details, see below for the Call for Entries and Entry Form. All entries must be received by the LSMS no later than July 10, 2013. All entries must have been published or broadcast between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013.
 
For more information or any questions, email Linda Jones  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Sadie Wilks  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or call 225-763-8500.

 
Links to PDFs:
 
A judge refused Tuesday to disqualify one of his colleagues from presiding over a lawsuit that challenges the Jindal administration's cancellation of Client Network Services Inc.'s nearly $200 million contract to process Medicaid claims.
 
Assistant State Attorney General David Caldwell cited two reasons in asking state District Judge Mike Caldwell to recuse state District Judge Tim Kelley from the case: CNSI attorney Lewis Unglesby recently represented Kelley in what has been described as a "personal matter," and Kelley's wife - former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis - will be called as a witness in the CNSI case.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
LSU continued to shrink its hospital management footprint Monday, turning over its health facilities in four cities to private operators, including a shift in New Orleans that has caused delays in non-emergency services.

As part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's push to privatize the university-run hospitals and clinics, operations of LSU facilities in Houma Lafayette, Lake Charles and New Orleans, were leased to nonprofit corporations that run private hospitals in the regions.

The Huey P. Long Medical Center in Pineville remains in the LSU System for now, although the state is in talks with Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital and Rapides Regional Medical Center to take over operations. The two Alexandria hospitals are expected to form a partnership to run a scaled down Huey P. Long that will be relocated from Pineville to a building at the England Airpark in Alexandria.

Read the full story at The Town Talk.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Join us Saturday, June 22, at LSMS headquarters at 9:30 am for the final installment in this series by Dr. Trent James.
Patients poured into the emergency triage center at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales, one after another, for hours Thursday morning following the Williams Olefins chemical plant explosion in Geismar, officials said.

Jon Hirsch, the hospital's spokesman, said he hasn't seen a catastrophe of such magnitude since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The blast killed one worker and injured 77 others.

"Days like this, thank goodness they don't happen very often," Hirsch said. "It's energy consuming. But by the same token, we also feel blessed to be able to help people in our community."

The hospital called in employees scheduled to be off and diverted staffers from other departments to help treat at least 36 patients in the immediate hours following the explosion, most of whom suffered minor injuries, Hirsch said.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
Deborah Crowder Loper, a former accountant for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, was arrested Tuesday and charged with defrauding the state out of more than $1 million, according to Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.
 
Loper, a Baton Rouge resident, has been charged with theft by fraud, money laundering, and malfeasance in office for intentionally using her position of public trust to defraud Louisiana's Medicaid program by misappropriating public funds for personal use.
 
"Ms. Loper squandered hundreds of thousands of tax dollars meant for invaluable health care services for Louisiana's Medicaid recipients and used her position as a public servant for her own personal gain," Caldwell said in a prepared statement. "This type of despicable activity erodes public trust and confidence in our government programs and will not be tolerated. She will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
 
Read the full story at the Times-Picayune.
Louisiana State Medical Society member Trent James, MD, presents the history of medicine in Louisiana in three parts, June 8, 15, 22, 9:30-11:30 a.m., at LSMS headquarters, 6767 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA.
 
The purpose of this three-part lecture series is to present what makes Louisiana unique in its medical history and patient care through the 19th century. The lecture series is presented in three parts: June 8, 15, and 22 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The event is free for LSMS members and is $15 per session for non-members or $35 for all three sessions. Please register online at historyofmedicine.eventbrite.com.
 
Dr. James volunteers as a docent at the LSU Rural Life Museum at the Burden Center in Baton Rouge. It is from his discussions as an "ole" country doctor that visitors learn about healthcare in the 19th century. Dr. James served as vice president of the Louisiana State Medical Society in 2006-07. He earned his medical degree from LSU Medical Center in New Orleans and completed his residency in the Charity Hospital System of Louisiana and Highland Hospital in Rochester, New York. 
 
For more information or to register, call 225-763-8500, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit historyofmedicine.eventbrite.com.
 
About Louisiana State Medical Society
 
Established in 1878, the Louisiana State Medical Society (LSMS) serves as the premier advocate for patients and physicians. The LSMS is the largest voluntary physician organization in the state and represents all specialties. Please visit www.LSMS.org for more information, or call 225-763-8500.

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A planned contract to allow a partnership between Rapides Regional Medical Center and Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital to take over Huey P. Long Medical Center was delayed Tuesday because details have not been worked out.

Dr. Hugh Mighty, vice chancellor for clinical affairs at LSU Health in Shreveport, said the proposed challenge "creates a little bit of a challenge" because the Huey P. Long facility in Pineville is so old.

Mighty said negotiations with Cabrini and Rapides Regional, both in Alexandra, are "pretty far down the road."

One of the things holding up the contract is a plan to move the hospital's functions to the England Airpark in Alexandria, a process that began a year ago but was halted by hospital budget cuts.

Read the full story at The Town Talk.
 
The total operating expense associated with the privatization of nine LSU hospitals will hit $1 billion during the new fiscal year, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday.
 
That's more than is in the current year's budget - $955 million - for the state to operate the charity hospitals.

And more than the $626 million Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed for private companies to operate the public hospitals in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Nichols said the administration would submit amendments to the state Senate Finance Committee to close the funding gap, recommending using some money from hospital leases as well as other state and local revenues.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee expressed concern today that the three LSU hospitals in the central and northern parts of the state have insufficient funding and so far, there's no public-private partnerships to assume their management.

And even if there were, questions surround whether the state could afford partnerships like those in New Orleans and Baton Rouge that are costing the state millions of dollars.

The LSU Health hospital in Shreveport has enough funding n this year's budget to keep the doors open for about nine months, said Charlie Rome, analyst for the Legislative Fiscal Office.

The associated medical school, which has been relying on the hospital for about $26 million a year, can't do that this year because of budget cuts to the hospital. Rome said the medical school on its own has enough money for about seven months, "which raises questions about accreditation."

Read the full story at The Shreveport Times.
State Rep. Roy Burrell is glad to see his son graduate from LSU School of Medicine's orthopaedic surgery program this year.

But it's not only because his son is moving forward in his career.

"Things are so uncertain for the medical school," Burrell said.

The school is facing a $42 million shortfall in the proposed 2013-14 state budget. In years past, LSU Hospital in Shreveport, part of the university's public hospital system, provided about a third of the school's funding. But that is up in the air now as the LSU System negotiates with the Biomedical Research Foundation in Shreveport to assume hospital operations.

Read the full story at The Shreveport Times.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has hired a new inspector general and chief compliance officer to lead internal and external audit efforts. The move comes less than two months after the resignation of Bruce Greenstein, the department's former secretary, amid allegations that he improperly helped a former employer secure a state contract worth nearly $200 million. William Root is the former assistant special agent in charge of the Office of Investigations at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Root's team was credited with helping secure 31 indictments of 29 Baton Rouge-area defendants in just a few months, DHH says, and uncovered fraudulent Medicare schemes worth nearly $250 million. Root will oversee DHH's Program Integrity section, which is responsible for identifying fraud in the Medicaid system. "While we prioritize identifying and stopping Medicaid fraud, Bill Root will also oversee audits and special investigations within the Department," interim DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert says. The position of chief compliance officer was created by DHH in response to a January Legislative Auditor's report, which recommended beefing up fraud prevention and detection and highlighted the need for an internal audit function. Jina Hughes, who was hired by DHH to be the program integrity director, is on leave pending a review of her role in amending the contract at the center of the scandal that led to Greenstein's resignation.
 
Courtesy of the BR Business Report.

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In response to federal questions, state health officials scaled back their request for blanket approval of the supplemental Medicaid financing included in the private takeover of LSU hospitals.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals has submitted only a request for approval of a deal involving Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had asked numerous questions about an earlier broad-ranging earlier submission to encompass all potential deals.

Among the questions was how the state could propose a November 2012 effective date when no agreements had been signed. Those questions stopped the approval process.

Read the full story at The Advocate.
A prime candidate to run LSU hospitals in Shreveport and Monroe pulled out Monday, citing potential anti-trust challenges.

James K. Elrod, president of the Shreveport-based Willis-Knighton Health System, announced the decision in a news release. Hospital system officials had no further comment, spokeswoman Marilyn Joiner said.

The LSU Board of Supervisors last week approved a memorandum of understanding with the Biomedical Research Foundation to work out a deal for the management and operation of the two hospitals, which are key to LSU medical education efforts.

"Over the past seven months, a Willis-Knighton team has worked exhaustively and at significant expense to complete our due diligence in regard to this laudable initiative," Elrod said.

Elrod said the system's board, administrators, physicians, staff "and many consultants specially hired for this work sought to determine the proper place for WKHS in a new health care services model in and for our communities ... Ultimately, after many months of this work, we determined Willis-Knighton is not in a position to partner with the Biomedical Research Foundation in this initiative."

Read the full story at The Advocate.
Louisiana Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein has resigned, Gov. Bobby Jindal's office confirmed Friday. Speculation Greenstein would resign were rampant after news broke he allegedly used his influence as department head to secure a contract for a former employer.

Greenstein's resignation will take effect April 1, after which DHH Deputy SecretaryKathy Klieber will as Interim Secretary, according to a press release sent by the governor's office Friday afternoon.

The Advocate broke the news on May 24 that a federal subpoena had been issued to the administration after details showed Greenstein, who was employed by CSNI in 2005 and 2006, had pushed for the company to be allowed to compete for the state's Medicaid claims contract in 2011.

At the time, Greenstein said he had taken himself out of the bid process. Shortly after The Advocate story, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced the state would be terminating its contract with CNSI.

Read the full story at the Times-Picayune.
Last week the Department of Health and Hospitals unexpectedly cancelled the contract with the new Medicaid fiscal intermediary CNSI. In addition to taking over the responsibilities of fiscal intermediary in 2014, CNSI was also charged with re-enrolling all current Medicaid providers and collecting physician attestation forms that are required in order to receive enhanced primary care reimbursement rates pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. Due to the cancellation of the CNSI contract, Molina will immediately take over the provider re-enrollment activity. For more information, concerning provider enrollment please see the following information provided by DHH. The LSMS will urge DHH to take all necessary steps to ensure that physicians who had already re-enrolled with CNSI will not have to start the process over with Molina.
 
In addition to the confusion over provider re-enrollment caused by the cancellation of the contract, there is also considerable confusion as to whom DHH will appoint to collect physician attestation forms, which make primary care physicians eligible for enhanced rates for primary care professional services. DHH provided a deadline of March 31 for forms to be submitted to CNSI in order for enhanced payments to be retroactive to January 1, 2013. Since physicians can no longer submit to CNSI and DHH has provided no further guidance, the LSMS is aggressively pursuing an extension to this deadline and will notify the membership as soon as DHH identifies who will be collecting the forms. DHH has also made public a draft copy of the enhanced rates, and we encourage our membership to review this draft fee schedule and provide any comments. The draft fee schedule can be accessed through the lamedicaid.com website or by clicking here. We remain hopeful that there will be no long-term disruption due to the cancellation of this contract and will continue to monitor the situation closely.
Plans to privatize most of LSU's public hospitals will increase the costs of borrowing for repairs and construction of the health facilities, because the bonds issued for the work will be taxable, a bond expert said Thursday.

The Bond Commission learned that bonds issued for LSU hospitals and clinics slated to be managed by private hospital operators don't meet the requirements for tax-exempt status by the IRS.

"Because of the changing nature of the operations of who will control or manage the facilities, these facilities will no longer meet that test," said Whit Kling, director of the Bond Commission, which oversees state borrowing.

Outside bond attorneys for the state agreed and suggested taxable bonds for LSU construction work, including the dollars being borrowed to build the new teaching and research hospital in New Orleans.
 
Read the full story at the Shreveport Times.
In early December, doctors at Ochsner Medical Center performed a first for the hospital and the region when they opened up the uterus of a pregnant woman and surgically repaired the spine of a one-pound fetus. Three months later, Colby Boudreaux was born without the problems typical for a baby diagnosed with a severe spinal abnormality. 

Weighing almost 5 pounds, Colby Boudreaux can move his legs and feet, has regular bowel and bladder functions and no evidence of fluids building up in his brain. 

“The baby is wiggling his toes, which makes me really, really happy,” said Dr. Clifton Moore, one of Ochsner’s high-risk pregnancy specialists.

Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the spinal column doesn’t close. Kaci and Anthony Boudreaux’s baby was diagnosed with the most severe form: a hole in the spine that exposes the nerves to damage by amniotic fluid. Babies with this condition typically suffer from fluid accumulation in the brain, some paralysis of their lower limbs, and, often, developmental problems.

Read the full story at the Times-Picayune.
The per capita rate of new AIDS cases in New Orleans and Baton Rouge rank among the highest for cities across the nation, according to 2011 data from the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The Baton Rouge metropolitan area, for the second year in a row, has the highest per capita rate of new AIDS cases in the nation, according to 2011 data from the CDC, while New Orleans ranked fourth.

Baton Rouge has a rate of 29, which means 29 people out of every 100,000 of population were diagnosed with AIDS in 2011, the report says.

The CDC uses the U.S. Census Bureau's Metropolitan Statistical Area to define the Baton Rouge metro area. It consists of nine parishes: East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Livingston and St. Helena.

Miami was ranked second with a rate of 28; Atlanta was ranked third with a rate of 27; New Orleans was ranked fourth with a rate of 25 and Baltimore was ranked fifth with a rate of 24.
 
Read the full story at The Advocate.
Jindal administration officials claim the benefits Louisiana would receive from participating in the Medicaid expansion have been broadly exaggerated. But the adminstration's numbers have come under fire as well, as analysts of every stripe attempt to forecast how the national health care law will actually play out.

Studies of the move to expand Medicaid to families with income levels up to138 percent of the poverty level show that more than 400,000 additional people in the state could end up covered by the federal insurance program for the poor. But Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein has repeatedly called that statistic misleading. Nearly half of those prospective Medicaid clients now have private insurance, he said; they would drop it to enroll in Medicaid.

Among policy wonks, Greenstein is describing the "crowd out" effect, which all analysts agree will happen to some extent. But his numbers are not universally accepted. A Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured report pegged the number of insured people who would move onto the federal program at about 88,000 people, less than half the 187,000 Greenstein has estimated.
 
Read the full story at the Times-Picayune.
Former President Bill Clinton and a cardiologist-geneticist are keynote speakers for a medical information technology conference March 3-7 in New Orleans. Dr. Eric J. Topol of Scripps Health in La Jolla, Calif., has written a book that says social networking, smartphones and new tools to map each patient's DNA will give people control of their own genetic and medical information.
 
He will speak March 5 at the conference, which is called HIMSS13.
 
Clinton's speech on March 6 will be streamed on the Internet. So will 10 educational sessions. Another 11 pre-recorded educational sessions will be available through the web for participants who can't get to New Orleans.
 
The exhibition floor will include an area where doctors can view and directly compare a variety of electronic health record programs.