In what may sound like a broken record, this week the Jindal Administration announced another cut to health care in our state. Dr. Fred Cerise, the former head of LSU Health Sciences took to the pages of the Atlantic Magazine to confront Governor Jindal’s consistent demolition of our state’s health care system:
“Earlier this year an uninsured patient at Lallie Kemp Medical Center, a small safety net hospital operated by LSU, suffered a subdural hematoma — bleeding between the brain and the skull that is treatable if given prompt attention. The hospital attempted to transfer the patient to LSU’s referral facility in New Orleans, but the hospital, with shrunken capacity, already had seven patients in the emergency department awaiting ICU beds. The doctor called 17 other hospitals that day, including some with neurosurgeons, operating rooms, and ICU beds available. None accepted the patient. He died that evening.
Unfortunately, examples like these are becoming easier to identify in Louisiana. The Institute of Medicine reports that 18,000 people a year die in the U.S. for lack of health insurance. When Louisiana’s Health Secretary, Bruce Greenstein, was asked about the patient at Lallie Kemp in testimony before the legislature a few months ago he explained that the patient could not get care because of a shortage of neurosurgeons in Louisiana. That, of course, sounded better than the fact that it is more essentially due to the state’s approach to the uninsured.
Louisiana has some serious health care challenges, with the fourth highest uninsurance rate in the country, among the highest cost and lowest quality outcomes for patients with Medicare, and among the highest rates of tobacco use, obesity, poverty, and infant mortality, to name a few. For health status and outcomes, Louisiana is among the worst in the country…”