House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, April 25, 2013 6:54 PM
BATON ROUGE — A change in teacher evaluations, rejection of a Medicaid expansion, a plan to help hospitals, efforts to change the budget process and more gun laws were the highlights of the Legislature’s third week, according to House Speaker Chuck Kleckley.
The Lake Charles Republican said he supports changes in the teacher evaluation system and that educators are also on board. Kleckley said there was a lot of misinformation about the program.
A House committee fashioned a compromise that says evaluations done this year won’t put teachers’ jobs in jeopardy. It keeps the program in place, but says teachers rated “ineffective” for two years wouldn’t face termination until the 2014-2015 school year — a year later than planned.
Kleckley said that will give everyone time to reach out to educators and give all involved a year to fix things in the program. He said he met with teachers from his area and that they support the change.
The full House gets the legislation next.
Expanding Medicaid — the federal-state health care program for the poor — poses problems, Kleckley said, and that is why Gov. Bobby Jindal has rejected a broader program.
The Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, calls for the Medicaid expansions, but the U.S. Supreme Court gave states an opportunity to opt in and out of the program.
Ask what the numbers are, and you get five different answers, Kleckley said.
He said the Legislature’s fiscal office said the state could save $500 million with the expansion, but the governor said the state would lose $1.7 billion over the next 10 years.
“We need good, solid, believable numbers, and don’t have them,” he said.
Kleckley is sponsor of House Bill 532, a proposed constitutional amendment that sets up a funding formula for state hospitals that are only being reimbursed for 60 percent of their costs for treating poor and low-income residents.
Assessments will be levied against hospitals, and the revenues will be placed in the Hospital Stabilization Fund. Those funds will be used to attract federal Medicaid dollars, and the enhanced revenues will be placed in the stabilization fund.
Revenues from the fund will be redistributed to the participating hospitals based on the care they deliver, Kleckley said.
He said he has some concerns about budget reform bills being sponsored by a group of Republican House members called “Fiscal Hawks.” Four bills got out of the House Appropriations Committee earlier in the week.
“My concern is whether there could be unintended consequences of their actions,” he said. And he said placing some of the changes in the state constitution could cause future problems.
Kleckley said House members approved additional gun legislation during the week to protect residents’ individual rights. One measure says federal laws on semiautomatic weapons can’t be enforced in Louisiana, and another deals with protecting the names of people who hold concealed gun permits.