Friday, February 03, 2006

There's a Robbing Going on in Louisiana

My good friend GlenB sent me this link to a video giving you a close up view of the utter devastation that hit New Orleans and South Louisiana. It is not for the weak at heart.

A few colleges have managed to reopen but businesses are struggling to survive. The public school system is a complete mess and people lives have been destroyed. At my son's school this morning I met a couple who were forced from their homes by the hurricanes and have not yet gone back. They described how their complete support structure has disappeared. Family, friends and colleagues are scattered and nothing will be the same again for huge numbers of people.

It is no secret that Louisiana is beyond broke. Deep cuts are everywhere and all have been asked to sacrifice as it should be.

But what if I described an insane situation where the state is about to be asked to bond $30 million dollars to build and provide a service that is completely being provided by a private entity. Philanthropists and corporations are trying to build a Children's hospital in Shreveport, La and the group of this effort has not only offered the local state hospital a free-ride in using the equipment and facilities as a training hospital for their residents, but also offered them a substantial cash collaboration fee. A win-win situation right?

Here's the local paper's story today:
BATON ROUGE -- An LSU Board of Supervisors committee Thursday gave the green light to the LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport Foundation to finance, design and build a $35 million "free-leaning" children's hospital connected to Shriners Hospital for Children.

The meat of the story is at the end:
The $35 million in bonds include some bonds that are tax exempt to the buyer and some so-called "new market tax credit" bonds available only to nonprofits that provide federal income tax credit to the investors, Babin said. LSUHSC-Shreveport will lease the hospital space from the foundation, which will use the income to pay off the bonds.

In addition, Willis-Knighton has pledged $5 million -- $1 million a year for five years -- for operating costs, King said. "The LSUHSC in Shreveport has had a children's hospital-within-a-hospital since 1995."

King said those who supported the LSU-Shriners project include Charles Penn, chairman of the board of Shriners Hospital for Children-Shreveport; Dr. Donald Mack, a Shreveport pediatrician on the board of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., that has a cooperating affiliation with LSUHSC-Shreveport; and Dr. Bill Parker of Shreveport, president of the Northwest Louisiana Pediatric Society.

Joe Pain, administrator of Christus Schumpert Hospital in Shreveport, asked the committee to postpone approval of the LSUHSC-Shreveport Foundation project.

"We suggested that we weren't there to oppose their project but to suggest a better way," said Dr. John Ponthie, administrator of Sutton's Children's Hospital.

"We have repeatedly offered Sutton's Children's as a training site for LSU. And we would welcome collaboration with them, at no cost to the taxpayers of Louisiana," Croom said. "We're hoping with the right kind of input, somebody will realize that's a genuine offer that's best for the community. "Hopefully, some wisdom will prevail."
It boils down to good 'ol boy politics and loyalites and old grudges. An individual is attempting to get the state of Louisiana in $30 Million dollars of debt for a bargain of $5 million.

A private hospital will give you the same service for nothing and take care of ALL children regardless of insurance/financial status, and Louisiana is headed toward removing a significant amount of bonding capacity of the state to duplicate this service. Taxpayers beware!

BTW, in case you were wondering if LSUHSC-Shreveport needs help with their pediatric training program, consider that for the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 only 10 other accredited programs had a 50% or lower pass rate on the Pediatric board exam.

Where are you Moon Griffon? Where are the investigative reporters asking hard questions?

Wake up Louisiana, your about to be 30 million dollars poorer for no reason. Can anyone think of another use of that money right now? I can.