Saturday, August 29, 2015

K+10...What It Means To Remember Katrina

And by Remember, I mean remembering the sociopolitical circumstances that led to so much tragedy and loss...and not repeating them. People didn't suffer and die for us to forget, declare everything "OK," and merely move on and recreate the same conditions. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Mayor Landrieu.)

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

What's the Whole Story Behind Louisiana's Medicaid Expansion for the Dead?

I've read the legislative auditor's report and various articles on Louisiana compensating private industry insurers for Medicaid services rendered to dead people; and the more I read, the more unanswered questions I have.

In this article, Kathy Kleibert blamed it on Social Security records.

Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said Monday that the problem occurred because DHH was relying on “a very sloppy database in Social Security” to determine who should be enrolled in the managed care plans. Most of the cases involved older adults with disabilities qualifying for Medicaid through the Social Security system, she said.

“In the future we are going to be using our vital records database,” she said, referring to the state’s registry of birth and death records.

This Town Talk article implies the state relied on data from the DHH vital statistics office.

The legislative auditor definitely used DHH Vital Stats data to conduct the audit, but why would he use that method if the state uses/used Social Security info?$FILE/00035F69.pdf

Also, wouldn't Kleibert's response suggest that all of those people kept receiving federal and/or state SSI payments after they died?

I understand using a different methodology to audit payment errors.  That makes sense, but why wouldn't the state legislative auditor also use the same methodology as a means for comparison to lend more validity to his findings?

Or did the auditor intentionally employ a methodology that provides a safety escape hatch for DHH?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why Are We Buying What Donelon Is Selling?

Louisiana insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon explained last week on Angela Hill's radio show (at about minute 13:00) why our auto insurance is so high.  Auto insurance rates in Jefferson, Orleans, and a couple of other parishes are 40% higher than rates in the rest of the state because of a prolific "soft tissue" market, Mr. Donelon said.  That is, the proclivity of locals, aided by lawyers and doctors, towards seeking compensation for injuries resulting from auto accidents.  It pains me to agree with that characterization of the local citizenry.

It also leaves alot unexplained, in my opinion.  Seven years ago I paid about $74/mo. for a policy in Nashville with $100,000/$300,000 (100/300) limits and about $80/mo. for the same coverage in Chicago.  When I moved back to New Orleans, I had to slash my coverage limits to 50/100 just to barely afford auto insurance here.  Turns out I couldn't even barely afford it.  I just plain could not afford it, not even if I doubled my deductible.

With each passing year, I tacked on 365 more days to my flawless driving record *knock on wood*.  Still, my premiums continued to rise despite my car and me both being six years older and my having aged into an (allegedly) cheaper rating class; and five years into my move back home, I had to drop my coverage to the 25/50 state minimum.  

Commissioner Donelon's explanation does not even come close to explaining why I and every Louisianian shell out 50% more money for about 1/5th of the coverage that we would get in other major cities.  The WDSU report that ran last evening seems to confirm my hunch that the prevalent "soft tissue" industry is not to blame for much of this disparity in auto insurance rates because it only accounts for approximately 10% of the increased premium.  That news story also makes very fuzzy links between a national rise in auto insurance fraud and cell-phone caused driver distraction, but Louisiana's ridiculously high insurance rates long pre-date either of those phenomena.  

Even if auto insurance fraud accounts for 40% of our premiums in metro N.O., that does not satisfactorily explain why it's 40% more for WAY less coverage.  I am, in fact, now paying 40% more than I paid in Chicago and Nashville, but shouldn't I be paying 40% more for 100/300 coverage instead of 40% more for shitty 25/50 coverage?  Maybe there is an actuarial table somewhere that that backs up Mr. Donelon's explanation, but until I see it, I ain't buying it.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Senatron Vitter and The Talking Points

I think my Senator might be an automaton.

This past summer, I emailed Sen. Vitter what I thought were two simple questions: "Could you please explain your reasons for voting NO on the nomination of Richard Cordray for Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?  Who do you think would have been a more appropriate choice for this position, someone you could have voted for?" 

A little over two weeks later, he responded:
Dear Friend,
Thank you for contacting me in opposition to Majority Leader Harry Reid's planed "nuclear option" to change procedures in the Senate. I appreciate hearing from you, and I completely agree with you. 
As you know, Senator Reid was advocating ending the 60-vote threshold currently needed to confirm Executive branch nominees. He was considering a "nuclear option" to lower the threshold to 51 votes, which would have drastically changed the rules and norms of the Senate. I am vehemently opposed to this hypocritical idea that would severely hamper a minority party's constitutional right to advise and consent. A last minute deal was reached to defuse this current crisis, but Democrats could still attempt this maneuver in the future. 
If Senate Democrats insist on changing how the Senate operates, it will not be because Senate Republicans have forced their hand. Of the 1,564 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate over the past four and a half years, only four have been rejected. Also, according to the Congressional Research Service, President Obama's cabinet nominees are, on average, moving from announcement to confirmation faster than nominees from the last two previous Presidents. Majority Leader Reid's plan is based on false premises, not on facts. Democrats would do permanent damage to the Senate for immediate and temporary political gain. Rest assured that I will hard to oppose this "nuclear option." 
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about other issues important to you and your family.
OOOOOOK, Take 2.  Although I should have been pleased over the personalized comment tacked onto the end of his email in a totally different font, I ungratefully wrote back:

Senator Vitter,

I do appreciate your taking the time to respond to my message.  It appears, however, that you responded to questions different from the ones I asked.  My questions were:

Senator Vitter, Could you please explain your reasons for voting NO on the nomination of Richard Cordray for Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Who do you think would have been a more appropriate choice for this position, someone you could have voted for?

Could you please answer those questions?  Thank you.

That was two months ago.  

Could the appropriate staffer please reboot the Senator in order to complete the installation of his most recent talking points?  It's not like y'all are doing anything else.