The clock is ticking on the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal. He is limited to two consecutive terms, and his successor will be elected this fall.
But that’s not all that’s ticking in the State Capitol.
There are time bombs ticking more loudly every day. And unfortunately for any members of the Legislature who hope the voters will return them to office this fall, next year’s financial outlook might be when the bombs go off.
The latest is an old one that the Jindal administration can allow to continue ticking, because the resolution of the problem can be delayed until the governor is safely out of office.
Among the financial problems of Jindal’s rushed-through privatization of charity hospitals, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called CMS, has rejected reimbursement of advance lease payments from the private providers.
The state used $260.8 million in advance lease payments to prop up the deals involving public hospitals, including those in New Orleans, Lafayette and Houma.
DHH had asked CMS to reconsider its disallowance of $189.9 million in federal financial participation for the hospital deals using the lease payments as the state share. The disallowance covered Jan. 1, 2013, to May 23, 2014.
“After careful consideration, CMS cannot accept the arguments advanced by the State in its request for reconsideration,” CMS acting director Vikki Wachino wrote.
Private hospital companies leasing the state’s charity hospitals agreed to pay upfront a larger proportion of their long-term leases, which would result in lesser amounts toward the end of the contracts. CMS said the arrangement amounted to Louisiana trying to get extra federal Medicaid dollars to repay private managers for those advance lease payments.
That’s true on its face. But the state now has 60 days to file an appeal of this latest rejection, and then there is the possibility of further court action.
At more than $190 million, with interest, if the state loses, the next governor and Legislature are left with yet another Jindal legacy.
Extending this dispute into the indefinite future suits a term-limited governor just fine.
But it’s another one of those increasingly ominous ticking sounds that echoes amid the marble of the Capitol halls.