Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on Medicaid expansion:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Feb. 27 became the latest Republican governor to decide to accept the expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care act. ...
Christie said he's "no fan of the Affordable Care Act," but said that he has to "make all my judgments as governor based on what is best for New Jersey." That is what every governor should do.
If only Gov. Bobby Jindal would do the same for Louisiana residents. Instead, he is stubbornly resisting the Medicaid expansion, which is a key component of the president's Affordable Care Act. In fact, he seems to be ratcheting up his opposition. That is a shame.
Given the number of Louisianians without health insurance and the high level of poverty in our state, his position makes no sense. Residents here without health care ranges from a state estimate of 675,954 to 895,800 in a Kaiser Family Foundation study. So the best case scenario is that almost one in seven residents is without health insurance.
If the state expands the federal program, the Kaiser report estimated that an additional 398,000 Louisiana residents would get coverage. The Medicaid expansion combined with other provisions of the Affordable Care Act could cut the number of Louisianians without health insurance by 60 percent, the report found.
With the high rates of diabetes and other chronic but treatable conditions in Louisiana, the broader access to basic health care could save lives. That alone is reason to participate. ...
Jindal defended sticking to his decision in a statement. "The reality is Medicaid relies on an outdated model that costs taxpayers billions of dollars for poor outcomes," he said.
Whatever the faults of the system, though, it is the easiest way to get health care to low-income Louisiana residents. There really is no other plan on the table.
Having hundreds of thousands of residents without access to health care or who only use the emergency room is a sure path to "poor outcomes." Jindal, a health policy expert, ought to understand that.
The Town Talk, Alexandria, La., on the state biofuel industry:
It was not so long ago that we wrote the following on this page:
"The highest of high-tech initiatives has found its way to the heart of Central Louisiana: the molecular dissociation of carbon dioxide to make synthetic fuel that will burn in gasoline, diesel and other engines without modifications and without producing the pollutants known as greenhouse gases.
"That is the business of Sundrop Fuels Inc., a Colorado-based biofuels firm which, in the industry vernacular, specializes in 'cracking' carbon dioxide to make synthetic fuels.
"Now it wants to do that in a big way on 1,200 acres in Rapides Parish."
That was from Nov. 27, 2011, a little more than 15 months ago.
Fast-forward to a bulletin posted online Feb. 28 on www.TheTownTalk.com and then to a more detailed news story published in the March 1 paper:
"Sundrop Fuels Inc. closed on the purchase of more than 1,213 acres of land in the Rapides Station area Thursday where the biofuels company plans to locate its plant manufacturing 'green gasoline.'
"Sundrop Fuels has had an option on the property, owned by Ballina Farms, for more than a year while it moved forward with pre-construction efforts, including permitting. ...
It is fair to say that the arc of this story so far is beyond exciting. It is increasingly important news as the project gains traction.
More encouragement came in January of this year when Sundrop — doing business in our state as Sundrop Fuels Louisiana LLC — bought the former Cowboy Town entertainment venue for $2.5 million. That sprawling facility and its 28-acre site are adjacent to Sundrop's latest land purchase.
Sundrop Fuels clearly is moving forward with this important and timely project. Similarly, others are starting to tap into Louisiana's biofuels potential, including Emerald Biofuels and Verenium in Plaquemine and Jennings, respectively.
Underneath this are Louisiana's vast and varied natural resources and its long legacy as an energy leader. That bodes well for Sundrop Fuels and the project under way in Rapides Parish.
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on political intervention at LSU:
Not surprisingly, Louisiana State University wants the taxpayer-funded settlement to ousted coastal researcher Ivor van Heerden to be the end of the matter.
"Since the issues between the sides have been resolved through amicable settlement, LSU will not engage in further debate of those issues. Such debate is no longer relevant, warranted or appropriate," LSU President William Jenkins said.
But have the issues been settled? We question whether this settlement should be the end of the story.
The researcher was stripped of his deputy directorship at the LSU Hurricane Center, and he was told in late 2009 that his university contract would not be extended beyond the spring of 2010, court records show.
Van Heerden argued that LSU administrators dismantled his career because of his often-vitriolic criticisms of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after the catastrophic failures of New Orleans' levees during Hurricane Katrina.
Now, van Heerden calls the settlement a victory for academic freedom. If that's the case, why should not LSU now engage in some degree of critical inquiry into what happened and why?
Political intervention at LSU, including the suppression of faculty and student activism, is as old as Huey P. Long. But it should not be forgotten that one of the purposes of a first-class research university is to bring talent to bear on the problems of Louisiana — world-class talent, the kind that can be outspoken and raise the tough issues about our challenges here.
The van Heerden fracas not only cost taxpayers $435,000 in a settlement. It earned LSU the criticism of the American Association of University Professors and raised anew the old question of what level of activism is permitted among LSU's professors.
Given LSU's history in those issues, we suspect that many in the faculty would find such a debate relevant, warranted and appropriate.