by R. Reese Fuller

JINDAL TEAM MAKES HEALTH CARE RECOMMENDATIONS Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Health Care Transition Advisory Council has delivered a 35-page report with its recommended health reform agenda. The report largely echoes what other studies have found in recent years: that the state needs more of an emphasis on preventative/primary care, emergency rooms are being overused, and the state needs to get more people covered under some form of health insurance.

On the controversial subject of the LSU-run charity hospital system, the report states that Jindal’s team was unable to come to a consensus on the subject, but does recommend funding teaching hospitals in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Monroe, adding that “all four academic medical centers should focus primarily on graduate medical education, biomedical research and specialized patient care.” Jindal has come out in support of rebuilding a teaching hospital in New Orleans, while plans for a new Earl K. Long charity hospital in Baton Rouge remain less certain. Jindal has said he supports redistributing federal uncompensated care dollars to all providers who treat the uninsured, instead of keeping all the money within the LSU system. ... LANDRIEU: LIBERAL OR MODERATE? Is incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of New Orleans liberal or moderate? If past campaigns are any indication, Landrieu’s opponents will label her as a liberal in her 2008 U.S. Senate re-election bid. And Landrieu will fire back that she’s a moderate. In that tit-for-tat scenario, Landrieu has a new weapon in her arsenal. According to an annual study by Congressional Quarterly, only one other Senate Democrat crossed the aisle more than Landrieu (Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska). Landrieu also serves as co-chair of the Common Ground Coalition, a bipartisan group of senators that approaches issues in a consensus-building way. “I do not approach Senate votes as a Democrat or as a Republican,” Landrieu says. “I support the president when it is right for Louisiana, including voting to shelve irresponsible taxes that left Louisianians footing the bill for national energy policy. But I will also continue to stand up to the White House when administration policy hurts us.”

If that refrain sounds familiar, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal used the same theme during his gubernatorial campaign. Democrat-turned-Republican Treasurer John Kennedy is running against Landrieu, while Republican Secretary of State Jay Dardenne is still weighing his options. ... LA. CONGRESSMEN WANT HURRICANE AID IN ECONOMIC STIMULUS Louisiana’s congressional delegation wants an extension of Go Zone Act provisions to be a part of an economic stimulus package now being put together on Capitol Hill. Last week, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany issued a press release stating, “If the President and Congressional leaders are serious about boosting the economy, extending the GO Zone tax provisions is the place to start. The GO Zone credits allowed hundreds of small businesses across Louisiana to rebuild, boosting our economy. Extending the deadlines for the GO Zone provisions will allow more businesses to contribute to our economy as well.”

Several provisions of the 2005 Go Zone Act, which provides tax credits and grants for new construction throughout the Gulf Coast region, are set to expire this year. In addition, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon are calling for further hurricane relief measures in the economic stimulus bill. Landreiu wants further tax relief for Road Home rebuilding grants and Melancon has sought to revive a housing bill that would provide some $500 million to affordable rental properties across the Gulf Coast. ... BAKER DEPLOYS HIS GOLDEN PARACHUTE That didn’t take long. Two weeks after he announced he was considering taking a hedge-fund lobbyist job, Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Baker is resigning from Congress, effective Feb. 7. It’s now smooth sailing for Baker to jump to the other side of the aisle and lobby his former legislative colleagues on behalf of the Managed Fund Association.

Having a veteran Louisiana congressman bail mid-term — on the heels of fellow Republican stalwart Jim McCrery’s announcement he isn’t running for re-election — doesn’t help the state’s already-diminishing clout in Congress. In Rep. McCrery’s case, at least he’s fulfilling his elected duties and finishing out his term. Baker, however, can’t wait to deploy his golden parachute.

Baker’s also leaving Louisiana taxpayers with a special parting gift. Gov. Bobby Jindal had to call a special election for voters to choose Baker’s interim replacement, and guess who foots the bill for that special election?

Contributors: Jeremy Alford, Scott Jordan, Nathan Stubbs