TRACKER: Jim Out, Podcast In & Other News Of The Day

FOUR THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Jim Out, Podcast In & Other Jazz

1.) BERNHARD: "I WILL NOT RUN"

Will businessman Jim Bernhard run for governor?

We asked that question in a recent issue of LaPolitics Weekly — after confirming meetings with at least two consultants — and now we have an answer.

“Sometimes these things take on a life of their own,” Bernhard told Business Report today. “I read so many articles about my running for governor [that] I thought maybe I woke up in the wrong mansion.”

So cross Bernhard off your maybe list. And you can read the full story here.

2.) THE PODCAST COMETH

If you've been with us since the beginning of The LaPolitics Report Podcast — Senate President John Alario was the first guest (and the 50th!) — you can go ahead and make plans to stick it out with us for at least one more season.

Adams & Reese has renewed its sponsorship for a third season, which will run from September 2018 through February 2019. We'll be rolling out 12 episodes during that timeframe, so if you have ideas for guests or themes, drop us a line at news@LaPolitics.com.

3) HEALTH & WELFARE HEARING

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee met this morning to talk about reports from the legislative auditor that haven’t been too kind to the health department. Here’s some Twitter moments* via Melinda Deslatte (@MelindaDeslatte):

— 9:56 a.m.: Sen. (Jay Luneau) @wjluneau questions comments that Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera has made about the audits. Purpera not at the hearing today. His staff is speaking for him.

— 10:17 a.m.: Sen. @wjluneau pushing back against the auditor's office, says audit doesn't prove improper payments for services. "Maybe we need to quit talking about what the worst possible case scenario is....Maybe it's not so bad.”

— 10:25 a.m.: There’s a lot of talk in this Senate Health & Welfare hearing about the media somehow misreporting things -- but not acknowledging that the Legislative Auditor gave interviews, did a radio show on this, in which he was very critical of the health department.

— 10:40 a.m.: Auditors found 41M paid claims totaling $2.4B from October 2015 through December 2017 that didn't have valid provider ID numbers. They found more than 194,000 claims totaling $13M where the provider type and a specialty code associated with it didn't match… Sen. (Norby Chabert) @NorbNolty: "The incident rates are concerning to me more than anything. ... We find ourselves in a place that could be ripe for fraud.”

— 10:49 a.m.: Sen. (Dan Claitor) @DanClaitor notes that the Medicaid audit has findings covering two administrations, the administrations of Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal and Democratic current Gov. John Bel Edwards.

— 10:00 a.m.: Sen. Gerald Boudreaux says of the Medicaid audit: "No one has said there's any fraud in here.”

— 10:14 a.m.: Health Secretary (Rebekah Gee) @rebekahgeemd says about the Medicaid audit: "For a variety of reasons Medicaid is politicized. These are important findings. We all want to address them and we want to fix them.”

— 11:33 a.m.: Lots of praise from senators for @LADeptHealth staff, saying they've had to fix problems they inherited. But many of the people in LDH offices have been around for multiple administrations, and aren't new to this one.

— 11:50 a.m.: Health Secretary @rebekahgeemd suggests auditors could talk through audit findings more in advance of releasing the audit. @LALegisAuditor office says agencies get drafts in advance and negotiate before final audit released.

You can also read about it the old fashioned way: Greg Hilburn covered the hearing for The News-Star and Deslatte has a story in the AP.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story used time stamps of the tweets in Pacific Standard Time, as they were listed on Twitter. This version has adjusted the times stamps to Central Standard Time. 

4) RECESS (SORT OF)

Congress is in recess. Well, the House is. Our six D.C. representatives, as they begin their re-election bids, are able to come home to meet with voters and have some family time, on top of some out-of-state fundraising escapades.

The Senate would be in recess too, except Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell kept his chamber in for what he argues is too big a workload to allow a 32-day vacation. U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy still get a little bit of time off (two weeks, starting last Wednesday), but not everyone is happy about it. Per The Washington Post: “Most lawmakers agree that the problems of this Congress will not be solved by more days in session and more time together. Instead, they say the institution needs to foster better relations so the two sides work better together — which would, most likely, lead to less time in the Capitol and a more productive body.”

Still, our senators appear to be making the most of what they’re given. Cassidy and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will be at the Port of New Orleans tomorrow to talk Louisiana’s “infrastructure needs and potential to be a global leader in multimodal commerce” before announcing a $45 million grant for a Belle Chasse project. In the meantime, the senior senator is appearing on local TV stations while also enjoying some sightseeing in Mamou, according to his Twitter. Kennedy’s office tells LaPolitics that the junior senator is spending his two weeks off “speaking to local groups, raising concerns about the state’s failed prison reform efforts and meeting with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in Belle Chasse.”

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