Johns' bill gets unanimous approval, moves to House

By By Jim Beam / American Press

BATON ROUGE — A bill designed to give more transparency to the state's Medicaid health care program for the poor got unanimous

approval here Monday in the state Senate and moves to the House.

Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, is sponsor of Senate Bill 55. It is the third attempt to open up the state's handling of the

Medicaid program. Two bills in earlier sessions were vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The governor said the programs that the Johns bill wants to review have had enough time to get organized, and he doesn't plan

to veto this version of the legislation.

 Jindal said he vetoed a 2011 bill by former state Sen. Willie Mount because it would have terminated the new program. However,

it did provide for reauthorization by the Legislature in 2014. The Johns bill has no termination provision.?The 2012 Johns

bill was vetoed by the governor because it required “duplicative and unnecessary reporting requirements.”

The three programs that the Johns bill would make more transparent are the Medicaid Bayou Health Program, the Behavioral Health

Partnership and the Coordinated System of Care. The governor in 2011 had DHH turn those programs over to private insurance

companies.

DHH describes Bayou Health as the new way

most of Louisiana’s Medicaid and Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance

Program recipients

receive health care services. The Behavioral Health Partnership

manages care for state-provided services like mental health

care and addiction treatment. Coordinated Care is for the state’s

at-risk children and youth with behavioral health challenges.

Johns and Mount said they wanted regular

reports because of the sweeping changes being made to the Medicaid

program involving

billions of state and federal dollars. The Johns bill wants the

care networks to be identified, information on the patients

receiving care, the number and types of claims being denied,

health outcomes and savings estimates.? 

The proposed legislation also says DHH

“shall make available to the public on the department’s website all

Medicaid state

plan amendments and any related correspondence within 24 hours of

submission to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services."