A new Legislative Fiscal Office analysis concludes that the latest revisions to the state health insurance program ease some of the out-of-pocket expenses of its 230,000 state employee, teacher, retiree and dependent members.

Under the original revamp, Fiscal Office director Travis McIlwain projected average out-of-pocket costs to increase by 47 percent over current Group Benefits health plans. That was in a worst-case scenario.

“With the proposed modifications to the out-of-pocket maximums ... and utilizing the same methodology, the 47 percent average maximum exposure increase has been reduced to an average increase of 32 percent,” McIlwain wrote in the latest edition of Focus on the Fisc. It reduced maximum exposure by one-third, he said.

The proposed changes will reduce earlier anticipated Group Benefits savings and increase premium costs.

Group Benefits anticipates a 10.8 percent premium increase effective July 1, 2015, of which 3 percent is attributable to the latest changes in its insurance program offerings.

The 10.8 percent premium increase will generate an estimated $130.1 million from members, state government and local school boards.

McIlwain’s report notes that 43 percent of the cost will be paid by state government; 29 percent by school boards; and 28 percent by members.

Sarah Palin, Robertson tout Cassidy at rally

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne evoked laughs when he spoke at a Monroe rally last weekend for U.S. Senate candidate Bill Cassidy.

Dardenne joined “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for the event.

“I’m happy to share the stage today with two celebrities. One is an expert in marksmanship, a television star, a member of one of the best-known families in America, someone who loves the great outdoors and is passionate about hunting, and Phil Robertson is here, too,” Dardenne quipped.

Jindal will make fourth trip to Iowa on Dec. 16

Gov. Bobby Jindal will be back in Iowa next month to headline the Polk County GOP Holiday Victory Party in Des Moines on Dec. 16, according to The Des Moines Register.

It will be his fourth trip to Iowa this year.

Jindal has been in Florida this week for the Republican Governors Association annual meeting.

Cassidy to punch his early ballot on Tuesday

U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, who is in a runoff on Dec. 6 against U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., plans to vote early on Tuesday at 8 a.m.

Cassidy is scheduled to cast his ballot at the Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane.

Later on Tuesday, he will campaign with GOP Gov. Rick Perry, of Texas, at stops in Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Covington.

Clinton joins Landrieu in N.Y. fundraiser

Prominent Democratic advocates Sarah and Victor Kovner will host cocktails with Hillary Clinton in New York on Dec. 1 to raise money for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who’s in a heated Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Bill Cassidy.

The Kovners’ Manhattan penthouse has been used for fundraisers for other Democrats in the past, including President Barack Obama.

The event honoring Landrieu will set donors back $1,000 to $12,600.

Ethics Board puts bow on holiday reminder

The state Board of Ethics has a reminder for public officials and government employees during the holiday season.

“Please keep in mind the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics and the law concerning food and drink — and gifts,” a message decorated with festive holiday colors around the edges says.

The message notes what the laws say, starting out with the general ban on receiving anything — directly or indirectly — from a company or individual that does business with or regulated by the public employee’s agency. Neither can a public employee accept anything from a company or individual that has an economic interest in the performance of the employee’s public job duties.

Generally, it’s OK for a public employee to accept complimentary food and drink when the public employee is the personal guest of the giver. But the public employee may not be given more than $58 — excluding tax and tip in food and/or drink at a single meal or event.

“Other than food and drink, any other type of gift or donation is generally prohibited,” the memo states.

Pierre joins NAIC regulators in D.C.

State Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, joined 25 legislators from other states to discuss modernization of regulatory framework for insurance at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Fall National Meeting in Washington, D.C. last week.

Pierre joined more than 25 legislators and gubernatorial representatives from 22 states and territories to consult with insurance regulators from across the country on issues affecting Louisiana.

“Many states share the concerns of Louisiana, and we all benefit from these open dialogues where we can learn from each other, as well as share insights on what works,” Pierre said.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is a regulatory support organization governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states.

Edwards to speak at Press Club in BR

Former Democratic Gov. Edwin Edwards, who is in a Dec. 6 congressional runoff election, will be the speaker for Monday’s meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Edwards’ runoff opponent, Republican Garret Graves, declined an invitation to appear, the Press Club said. Graves is a former aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Edwards led the field of candidates running in the Baton Rouge-based 6th District in the November primary.

The Press Club meets at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel, 102 France St. Parking is free in the garage off Mayflower Street. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers. The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and the news media are allowed to ask questions.

DHH names secretary for adult care programs

The state Department of Health and Hospitals has a new assistant secretary for its Office of Aging and Adult Services.

Tara LeBlanc, who has been in a department leadership role for four years, has been appointed to the job, DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert announced.

LeBlanc’s appointment comes following the September retirement of Hugh Ely.

Ely is still working in a limited capacity with the department as it moves to privatize managed long-term supports and services.

The office is responsible for coordinating long-term care programs for aging adults and people with adult-onset disabilities.

Before coming to DHH, LeBlanc worked in various positions with the LSU Health Care Services Division, Louisiana Technical College, River Parishes Community College and the state’s uniform payroll system.

New research project director hired at PAR

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has hired Criketa Matlock as its research project director.

Matlock comes to PAR from the Orleans Public Education Network, where she was a policy and research analyst.

PAR is nonprofit public policy research organization.

Compiled by The Advocate Capitol news bureau. Contact email is mballard@theadvocate.com. For up-to-the-minute news from the Louisiana Legislature, state and federal government follow our Poltics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/ or on Twitter, @AdvocateCNB.