Thanks in part to the Jindal administration’s financial mismanagement, the State of Louisiana is about to lop an arm and a leg off of its funding for health care. Where might the cuts come from? Jindal and his administrators have an idea — but they’re not telling the public. Not yet, anyway. From the Advocate:
The state health agency is using a law backed by the Jindal administration to conceal its recommendations for $600 million to $700 million in budget cuts.
State Department of Health and Hospitals officials said the public will know where the reductions will be made on Feb. 27, when Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office submits the proposed state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
DHH denied a public records request by The Advocate for a copy of budget options the agency submitted to the governor’s budget arm. The options were submitted in response to an administration directive to prepare for state funding cuts of $200 million to $300 million. With the federal matching funds state dollars attract, the cuts escalate to $600 million to $700 million.
Louisiana is facing a $1.6 billion shortfall in state revenues to fund the budget. Health care and higher education are the two big areas on the chopping block.
In denying the request, DHH cited a 2009 law that protects “pre-decisional advice and recommendations concerning budgeting” from disclosure for six months from the date the record is prepared.
Jindal got the budget-related documents placed off-limits during his major government “transparency” push soon after taking office. Government watchdog groups and media organizations objected to the provision, citing the need for open government.