Louisiana's Gov. Bel Edwards puts the boot to the helpless

Medicaid fraud in Louisiana is ignored while the state's governor chooses to penalize the elderly and infirm.  State government officials believe he's acting haphazardly and callously.

Daryl Purpera is not only legislative auditor for the State of Louisiana, but also chairman of the Louisiana Task Force on Coordination of Medicaid Fraud Detection and Prevention Initiatives.  In a recent testimony before the Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs, he spoke "specifically about the underutilization of the State Auditors in the fight against fraud, waste, abuse, and improper payments."

While he is unquestionably aware of rampant Medicaid fraud in the state, Governor John Bel Edwards has "underutilized" the auditor's preventative measures before making an unprecedented decision.  Instead of pursuing the overt abuse of Medicaid – which he is fully aware didn't happen overnight, as shown below – Edwards chose a fear-mongering alternative.

He encouraged the Louisiana Department of Health to notify nearly 37,000 recipients of Medicaid, many who are cared for in nursing or group homes, that they could lose their benefits as a result of proposed state cuts.  In essence, tens of thousands of Louisiana's elderly who are fully dependent on the care of professionals could be evicted from their facilities due to lack of state funding.

One News Now asked Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-La., 5th District) about these notices.  He said, "The Edwards administration, when they sent those demand letters out to the nursing homes, it was purely a political move.  There was no credibility, whatsoever.  In my opinion, it was childish.  It was irresponsible.  It was shameful.  Use whatever adjective you prefer to show his lack of compassion."

Rep. Abraham continued: "When the governor puts our most vulnerable population in his sights and says we are going to literally kick you out onto the street, I have a problem with that.  The legislature of Louisiana has given the Louisiana Department of Health $12 billion this year.  That's two and a half billion more than two years ago.  So, the question is 'where is this money going?'"  He concludes that much of it is going to the Department of Health, describing it as "the biggest bureaucracy in the state."

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) comprises nearly 7,000 people, he states.  "They haven't had one furlough.  They haven't had one layoff.  They need to clean up their own house before they raid somebody else's house."

The testimony of the Louisiana state auditor and the words of Rep. Abraham reveal erroneous and irresponsible misuses of Louisiana taxpayer money.  In 2016, reports confirmed that Louisiana is paying over a million to a million and a half to people who have moved out of the state.  The following year, in 2017, "LDH paid $6.4 million over a four-year period in dental claims that violated rules and another $4.4 million that may have violated program rules."  LDH also paid $1.4 million in duplicate Medicaid payments and $620,000 in payments for overlapping services.  In addition, it further documented that "LDH paid $4.2 million in improper payments that violated certification rules for laboratory services."

In response to Edwards's notices, Louisiana attorney general Jeff Landry laments, "We reached a new low on the political stage here in Louisiana when the Governor sent out 37,000 eviction notices to people that were on Medicaid in nursing homes.  The fact of the matter is that for two years now, the Legislative Auditor has identified over 80,000 people that he suspects are on the Medicaid rolls that are ineligible[.] ... if he's right, if that number is correct, then that would represent we are spending about $500 million a year, allowing people to receive a welfare benefit they are ineligible to receive.

"Yet, the Governor has sat idly by, basically choosing those people who are breaking the law over those people in nursing homes.  He's choosing to threaten the evictions of people in nursing homes, while allowing people to perpetuate fraud."

According to the Foundation for Government Accountability, there are "62,770 able-bodied adults without dependents on food stamps" in Louisiana.  Not one of them is subject to a work requirement, hence 47,705 are not working.

Rep. Abraham asks that we "encourage citizens to stand up and say 'enough is enough.'  It's time to reel back government.  It's time to make sure that we properly take care of those people who need it the most, and it's time for those willing and able-bodied people who are defrauding the system to be held accountable."

J.M. Phelps is a Christian activist and journalist based in the Southeastern U.S.  He is also editor and publisher of the website Lantern of Liberty.

Medicaid fraud in Louisiana is ignored while the state's governor chooses to penalize the elderly and infirm.  State government officials believe he's acting haphazardly and callously.

Daryl Purpera is not only legislative auditor for the State of Louisiana, but also chairman of the Louisiana Task Force on Coordination of Medicaid Fraud Detection and Prevention Initiatives.  In a recent testimony before the Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs, he spoke "specifically about the underutilization of the State Auditors in the fight against fraud, waste, abuse, and improper payments."

While he is unquestionably aware of rampant Medicaid fraud in the state, Governor John Bel Edwards has "underutilized" the auditor's preventative measures before making an unprecedented decision.  Instead of pursuing the overt abuse of Medicaid – which he is fully aware didn't happen overnight, as shown below – Edwards chose a fear-mongering alternative.

He encouraged the Louisiana Department of Health to notify nearly 37,000 recipients of Medicaid, many who are cared for in nursing or group homes, that they could lose their benefits as a result of proposed state cuts.  In essence, tens of thousands of Louisiana's elderly who are fully dependent on the care of professionals could be evicted from their facilities due to lack of state funding.

One News Now asked Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-La., 5th District) about these notices.  He said, "The Edwards administration, when they sent those demand letters out to the nursing homes, it was purely a political move.  There was no credibility, whatsoever.  In my opinion, it was childish.  It was irresponsible.  It was shameful.  Use whatever adjective you prefer to show his lack of compassion."

Rep. Abraham continued: "When the governor puts our most vulnerable population in his sights and says we are going to literally kick you out onto the street, I have a problem with that.  The legislature of Louisiana has given the Louisiana Department of Health $12 billion this year.  That's two and a half billion more than two years ago.  So, the question is 'where is this money going?'"  He concludes that much of it is going to the Department of Health, describing it as "the biggest bureaucracy in the state."

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) comprises nearly 7,000 people, he states.  "They haven't had one furlough.  They haven't had one layoff.  They need to clean up their own house before they raid somebody else's house."

The testimony of the Louisiana state auditor and the words of Rep. Abraham reveal erroneous and irresponsible misuses of Louisiana taxpayer money.  In 2016, reports confirmed that Louisiana is paying over a million to a million and a half to people who have moved out of the state.  The following year, in 2017, "LDH paid $6.4 million over a four-year period in dental claims that violated rules and another $4.4 million that may have violated program rules."  LDH also paid $1.4 million in duplicate Medicaid payments and $620,000 in payments for overlapping services.  In addition, it further documented that "LDH paid $4.2 million in improper payments that violated certification rules for laboratory services."

In response to Edwards's notices, Louisiana attorney general Jeff Landry laments, "We reached a new low on the political stage here in Louisiana when the Governor sent out 37,000 eviction notices to people that were on Medicaid in nursing homes.  The fact of the matter is that for two years now, the Legislative Auditor has identified over 80,000 people that he suspects are on the Medicaid rolls that are ineligible[.] ... if he's right, if that number is correct, then that would represent we are spending about $500 million a year, allowing people to receive a welfare benefit they are ineligible to receive.

"Yet, the Governor has sat idly by, basically choosing those people who are breaking the law over those people in nursing homes.  He's choosing to threaten the evictions of people in nursing homes, while allowing people to perpetuate fraud."

According to the Foundation for Government Accountability, there are "62,770 able-bodied adults without dependents on food stamps" in Louisiana.  Not one of them is subject to a work requirement, hence 47,705 are not working.

Rep. Abraham asks that we "encourage citizens to stand up and say 'enough is enough.'  It's time to reel back government.  It's time to make sure that we properly take care of those people who need it the most, and it's time for those willing and able-bodied people who are defrauding the system to be held accountable."

J.M. Phelps is a Christian activist and journalist based in the Southeastern U.S.  He is also editor and publisher of the website Lantern of Liberty.