GAMBIT: Support Constitutional Amendments 1 & 2
On Nov. 4, Louisiana voters will decide the fate of 14 proposed amendments to the state constitution. In this week's Commentary, we offer our recommendations on the proposed amendments. Next week — in time for early voting — we will make our endorsements in some of the contested elections. Whether you agree with our recommendations or not, we hope all our readers will vote in this important election.
Amendment 1: FOR
This amendment would protect an existing trust fund known as the Louisiana Medical Assistance Trust Fund. The fund receives money from fees placed on participating nursing homes, intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled and community pharmacies. That money is used to leverage many more federal Medicaid dollars — to compensate contributing facilities for care they provide to the state's poorest citizens. Louisiana is among 44 states that use this mechanism to leverage federal Medicaid dollars. This fund has been "raided" in recent years at the urging of Gov. Bobby Jindal to help balance the state budget. Amendment 1 would protect the trust fund from future "budget raids" and set minimum rates to be paid to participating health care providers. We recommend voting FOR this amendment.
Amendment 2: FOR
Amendment 2 seems related to Amendment 1, but they actually are distinct. Amendment 1 would protect an existing trust fund, while Amendment 2 would create a new trust fund. The existing fund affected by Amendment 1 deals with nursing homes, facilities for the developmentally disabled and community pharmacies; the fund to be created by Amendment 2 would set up a similar funding mechanism for Medicaid-eligible hospitals. Louisiana is one of only 10 states that does not use this type of funding, and Amendment 2 would cure that by establishing the Louisiana Hospital Stabilization Fund. The fund would be protected from "budget raids," and the amendment would set base level rates for participating hospitals. We recommend voting FOR this proposed amendment.