In the annals of audacity, Louisiana Health Secretary Bruce Greenstein’s vicious attack on Fred Cerise is quite remarkable.
In a column in Wednesday’s Baton Rouge Advocate, reporter Michelle Millhollon noted that Jindal is very busy talking to national reporters and writing op-ed pieces, commenting on national issues, including the approaching federal fiscal cliff. But, as Millhollon noted, “He is not as quick to publicly give his opinion on the problems at home, including a patient who died in the public health-care system.”
Louisiana, as the reporter observed, has its own very serious problems. And while journalistic ethics presumably prevented Millhollon from saying it, it’s fairly obvious that Jindal’s in no position to lecture national leaders when it’s clear that he cannot manage Louisiana’s fiscal problems.
Millhollon couldn’t say it, but I will: The gist of the column is that Jindal is a rank hypocrite, a shameful opportunist who attacks Washington for not properly dealing with its fiscal problems while he has long patched together Louisiana’s budget with bubble gum and one-time money.
It’s an audacious strategy and it has largely worked with many national political reporters who are unwilling to spend even two or three minutes checking to see if Jindal has even a shred of moral standing to critique Obama’s fiscal stewardship. But Millhollon’s review of Jindal’s audacity does not end with her description of the governor’s dishonest criticism of Washington.
Also quoted in her story is Jindal’s secretary of Health and Hospitals (DHH), Bruce Greenstein, who attacks Dr. Fred Cerise, a former DHH secretary under Gov. Kathleen Blanco and, until fired by Jindal, the head of the LSU health system. Cerise was fired because he refused to accede to Jindal’s and Greenstein’s plans to privatize and generally lay waste to Louisiana’s health care system.
There is not enough space in this post to detail Jindal’s misguided and heartless approach to health care reform, but Cerise’s recent column in The Atlantic is a fine place to start. Millhollon does a good job of summarizing the piece here:
Cerise, who lost his leadership role in August, talked about an uninsured patient who died because the referral hospital was overwhelmed and 17 other hospitals refused to admit him.
He blamed the patient’s death on the governor’s approach to uninsured care.
“Jindal has declared his opposition to the two major programs that would ensure care to the uninsured. He has made clear his intention to reject the federal Medicaid expansion and at the same time is dismantling the state’s public safety net. It’s a combination of blows for many of the state’s citizens who are among the lowest earners in the country and are destined to go without care,” Cerise said.
Jindal punted questions about Cerise’s column to his state health-care chief, Bruce Greenstein. Greenstein said Cerise should not point fingers at the governor when the patient died while Cerise was running the state’s public hospital system. He said Cerise had years to make changes that improved health-care delivery.
“There is no criticism that he can give that isn’t his own responsibility,” Greenstein said.
That Atlantic piece seems to have stung Greenstein mightily and prompted him to blame Cerise for not fixing Louisiana’s health care problem when he was DHH secretary.
Left unstated, however, is the fact that Jindal is about to enter his sixth year as Louisiana’s governor. He cannot credibly blame Kathleen Blanco’s former health secretary for failing to address a problem that Jindal himself chose not to tackle until last year.
Also left unstated is the fact that Jindal served as DHH secretary under Gov. Mike Foster in the 1990s. In that position, Jindal gustily slashed health care for the poor, a performance he has reprised with enthusiasm now that he occupies the Governor’s Mansion.
He and Greenstein are in no position to blame Cerise, who seems to have committed the worst possible sin in Jindal World — putting the interests of the poor above Bobby Jindal’s national political ambitions (which Jindal seems to believe are greatly enhanced by privatizing almost every aspect of Louisiana government).
Many years ago, I told someone that I believed Jindal would walk over his own grandmother in pursuit of his national political ambitions.
I assume that in the carnage of what is left of Louisiana’s health care system, Jindal’s own family has been spared the grief and pain he has inflicted on so many others.
But in chasing after the White House, Jindal and his aides are walking over real people. They are destroying lives. Their policies are resulting in the needless and tragic deaths of innocent people.
Jindal, of course, doesn’t have the time to talk to Louisiana reporter about his health care policies. He is, presumably, too busy writing op-eds about contraceptives and Obamacare.
He hides, instead, behind the skirt of his health secretary and sends him out to issue smarmy and dishonest attacks on the one person in their midst who had the decency to ask, “How will my actions impact the poor and the vulnerable?”
That, my friends, is the character of the man in the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion who rises every morning to behold a future president as he shaves.
God help us all.
- The Lens: Jindal gaining reputation for punishing those who stand in his way (bobmannblog.com)
- Jindal should worry less about ‘stupid’ GOP, more about Louisiana (tv.msnbc.com)
- Top Jindal Aides Use Personal Email to Strategize (abcnews.go.com)
- Jindal Calls for OTC Birth Control Sales So Dems Can’t ‘Demagogue the Issue’ (cnsnews.com)