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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced today that FEMA is granting $10.4 million in Public Assistance Funds to school districts in Livingston Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish and the city of Baker.

The East Baton Rouge School Board will receive $8.3 million.  The Livingston Parish School Board will receive $1.1 million.  Baker Schools System will receive $1 million.

“The 2016 flooding didn’t just impact homes and businesses.  It also devastated many schools,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “Every bit of funding counts when you’re rebuilding.  I’m thankful for this funding and will continue to work with our school districts until they are whole again.”

“As the East Baton Rouge Parish School District continues recovery in the aftermath of the 2016 floods, we appreciate the work of Senator John Kennedy in securing FEMA funding in the amount of $8 million,” said East Baton Rouge Parish school system Supt. Warren Drake.  “Senator Kennedy’s efforts are valuable in restoring school transportation services which directly benefit the students and families in our community.”

“The staff, parents and students will definitely benefit from this temporary measure,” said City of Baker School System Supt. Herman Brister.  “We are still working very closely with FEMA and GOHSEP regarding permanent work on Baker High School and project worksheets.”

“I appreciate FEMA reimbursements that continue to allow Livingston Parish Public Schools to recover from the August 2016 flooding,” said Livingston Parish School Supt. Rick Wentzel.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today urged Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to look into Medicaid cost saving efforts for the state.  This follows the letter that Sen. Kennedy sent Gov. Edwards last week highlighting possible ways to save Louisianans money.  Specifically, Sen. Kennedy pointed out the benefits of enacting work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

“Medicaid is a very important program, however, we have to be mindful about the cost.  Every dollar we spend unnecessarily on Medicaid is a dollar less we have for our public schools, our universities, and our roads.  I strongly encourage Gov. Edwards to look into cost-saving measures for Medicaid immediately,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “One of the best ways to save money is by implementing work requirements for Medicaid recipients.”

Click here or the video below to watch Sen. Kennedy’s comments about work requirements for Medicaid.

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Text of the letter:

 

October 10, 2017

 

The Honorable John Bel Edwards

Governor

State of Louisiana

P.O. Box 94004

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804

 

Re: Medicaid cost savings

 

By email, fax and U.S. mail

 

Dear Governor Edwards:

As you are aware, our Medicaid spending in Louisiana is growing at an alarming rate.  In Fiscal Year 2008-09, we spent $6.6 billion on the Louisiana Medicaid Program.  $1.5 billion of that was state taxpayer money and $5.1 billion was federal taxpayer money.  The Louisiana Medicaid budget for this fiscal year, 2017-18, was appropriated at $12.5 billion.  $3.3 billion of that is state taxpayer money and $9.1 billion is federal taxpayer money.

Thus, in 9 years, overall Medicaid spending is up 90%.  The state Medicaid contribution is up 120%, an average of a whopping 13% a year.  Federal monies are up 80%.

Louisiana now has 1.6 million Medicaid enrollees, about 440,000 of whom were added under Obamacare.  65% of all babies born in Louisiana had their births paid for by Medicaid.

Top quality health care for our people is extraordinarily important.  (No reasonable person has ever described Medicaid as “top quality,” but we can discuss that another time).  So, however, are other things, like elementary and secondary education, higher education, TOPS, roads and public safety.  The massive, unchecked spending increases in Medicaid are crowding out spending on these other priorities.  We need to do something about it.

The Trump administration is anxious to work with states on reducing Medicaid costs.  In fact, you received a letter from the federal Department of Health and Human Services Secretary and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator in March of this year encouraging you to seek permission from them to experiment with new ways to more efficiently and effectively promote Medicaid’s objectives.

Other states are seizing this opportunity.  Here is what some of them are doing:

1.  Indiana is seeking CMS permission to require Medicaid recipients who are able-bodied, without minor children and not elderly to work at least 20 hours per week.  According to a study by the University of New Hampshire’s Casey School of Public Policy, this is about 31.3% of the nation’s adult Medicaid enrollees.  These enrollees would participate in Indiana’s Gateway to Work program.  Gateway to Work helps participants fill out applications, build resumes, prepare for job interviews and search for employment.  The objective, of course, is to get people into the workforce so they can purchase their own health insurance and know the dignity of being self-sufficient.

2.  Indiana is also seeking permission to charge higher premiums to Medicaid enrollees who smoke cigarettes in the second year of enrollment.

3.  Arkansas wants to add a work requirement to its program and help some Medicaid patients transition to private insurance through tax credits and other assistance. 

4.  Kentucky recently filed a CMS application to charge small monthly premiums for Medicaid participants.  The premiums would range from $1 to $15.  That little bit of money would add up to big savings of more than $300 million for the state of Kentucky.  It also would reinforce the fact that everyone should have “skin in the game” and accept some responsibility for paying for a “free” government service that is not free at all, because taxpayers pay for it.

5.  Kentucky and Arizona are seeking permission to require Medicaid enrollees to report changes in their income that would exceed the Medicaid limits.

6.  Wisconsin is seeking CMS permission to drug test Medicaid applicants without children.  Applicants who test positive will not lose eligibility for Medicaid but instead will be referred to a 90 day drug treatment program.  A Medicaid applicant would not have to take an initial drug test if the applicant is willing to enter a substance abuse treatment program.  The idea is to build a healthy population that is able to work. 

7.  Wisconsin is also seeking CMS permission to charge monthly premiums for Medicaid ranging from $1 to $10 per household according to household income, impose a small co-pay ($8 for the first visit) for Emergency Room visits, and ask Medicaid applicants to fill out a health risk assessment to identify unhealthy behavior that can be improved through patient education.

These are only some of the innovative steps other states are taking to save money in Medicaid, encourage work and improve health outcomes.

You should also know that these efforts are not only Trump Administration-encouraged initiatives.  President Obama, for example, approved a waiver application by Arkansas to require its Medicaid beneficiaries to pay a small share of their health care.

I ask that you instruct your DHH Secretary to review these state proposals, develop a cost-savings plan for the Louisiana Medicaid Program, report the findings and seek legislative and CMS approval to implement them immediately.  My office will be happy to assist you and DHH in developing such a plan and getting it approved.

Thank you, Governor, for your cooperation in this endeavor.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

John Kennedy

U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) released the following statement today after President Trump issued a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Louisiana triggering the Public Assistance funds to help impacted communities recover from Tropical Storm Harvey.

“I would like to thank President Trump for directing Public Assistance funds to impacted Parishes in south Louisiana,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “However, I continue to encourage the President to designate Individual Assistance funds for citizens in Calcasieu Parish.  This storm devastated many homes and local businesses, and it’s only right that they have direct access to the tools necessary for rebuilding.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA.) released the following statement today on the Office of Management and Budget's supplemental budget request.

"The request includes deeply troubling policy suggestions that would harm Louisiana families insured through the National Flood Insurance Program.  The Office of Management and Budget wants to turn the NFIP into a means-tested program that would lead to skyrocketing premiums for the majority of policyholders in Louisiana.  This would hurt middle-class families as well as senior citizens living on fixed incomes.  This would put our economy in a death spiral by pricing families out of their homes.

"I am going to fight the inclusion of this language.  Owning a home is part of the American dream.  We can't put that dream out of reach."

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned former Equifax CEO, Richard Smith, about the recent no bid $7.3 million contract between the IRS and Equifax.

Equifax informed the Senate Banking Committee today that 2.16 million people in Louisiana were impacted by the security breach.  After the breach, Equifax received a fraud prevention contract from the IRS.

“The contract is $7 million and change.  Does that involve taxpayer information that you would have access to?” asked Sen. Kennedy.  “You realize to many Americans right now, it looks like we are giving Lindsay Lohan the keys to the minibar.”

Sen. Kennedy continued his questioning of Mr. Smith by asking him to explain the unfair premium credit monitoring services Equifax sells to the American people.

 “You collect my information without my permission and you sell that information to businesses.  You can’t run your business without me.  My data is the product that you sell,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “You then offer me a premium service to make sure the data you are collecting about me is accurate.  I don’t pay extra in a restaurant to prevent the waiter from spitting in my food.”

Click here to watch Sen. Kennedy question Mr. Smith in the U.S. Senate Banking Committee or click the photo below.

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“What in God’s name were you thinking?”- Sen. Kennedy to Wells Fargo CEO

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan about the egregious lapse in judgment that led to the creation of 3.5 million unauthorized deposit accounts and more than 500,000 unauthorized credit card applications. 

Click here to watch Sen. Kennedy question Mr. Sloan or click the link below.

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“Like you I believe in the free enterprise system.  I believe that the free enterprise system has lifted more people out of poverty than all of the social programs put together,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I am certainly not anti-business.  You can’t be for jobs if you are against business.  What I am curious about is what in God’s name were you thinking?  I am not against big business.  With all due respect, I am against dumb.  I’m against a business practice which puts Wells Fargo first and customers second.”

This hearing occurred one year after Wells Fargo’s then CEO John Stumpf appeared before the Senate Banking Committee to testify about the phony accounts.  Mr. Stumpf resigned shortly after the hearing.  Wells Fargo has since entered into a $185 million settlement with its customers.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA.) announced today that farmers in 10 parishes are eligible for federal assistance, including emergency loans, because of devastating weather in 2017. The impacted parishes are Concordia, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Madison, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Washington and West Feliciana.

“Excessive rainfall and flooding hit our farmers hard this year,” said Sen. Kennedy. “The federal government is offering low interest loans that can help farmers recover and rebuild. We want our farmers to prosper.”

Farmers have eight months to apply for low interest loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. For more information, contact your local FSA office.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

WASHINGTON—US Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) released a joint statement today warning against the inclusion of the Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, rather than as part of comprehensive flood insurance reform:

“The decision to include this flood insurance measure on the FAA reauthorization bill, and not as part of comprehensive flood insurance reform, is greatly concerning. This would be a disservice to millions of families across the U.S., especially those families still recovering from the recent hurricanes. We need Congress to act on a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP that will provide these families with affordable insurance and peace of mind.”

Sen. Kennedy to Chairman Clayton: “There’s more than just a data breach involved here.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) secured assurances from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton today that possible insider trading at Equifax will not be ignored.  Sen. Kennedy earlier called for a federal investigation after it became known that Equifax executives sold stock before publicly announcing the breach.

Click here or the picture below to watch today’s questioning.

“There is more than just a data breach involved in the Equifax situation.  This affects the sanctity of our equity markets and our economy,” Sen. Kennedy told Clayton during a hearing on Capitol Hill.  “I’m glad to hear you’re investigating.”

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“I can think of no better way to say ‘thank you’ to our troops than by giving them a much deserved raise.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The NDAA authorizes a total of $700 billion for our nation’s defense.  This year’s NDAA includes key provisions like giving our troops a pay raise, protecting Fort Polk from closure, investing in Barksdale’s B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber program, and increasing our military forces.  

“The brave men and women of our military make countless sacrifices to ensure that our country remains safe and secure.  As such, we must make sure that they have the necessary tools available for them to not only manage today’s tasks, but to also be prepared for the challenges we may face tomorrow,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure the most crucial needs of Louisiana's armed service members and our nation’s military members are met.”

Key Provisions:

  • Authorizes $700 billion for national security spending in Fiscal Year 2018, beginning Oct. 1.  It authorizes $60 billion in strategic defense spending for the war on terrorism. 
  • Includes reforms to prevent waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement through mandatory audits.
  • Authorizes $10.2 billion for military construction on military installations nationwide.  Within that amount, $1.33 billion would be authorized for military family housing.
  • Authorizes modernizing our nuclear forces and improves our missile defense systems.

Barksdale Air Force Base: 

  • NDAA includes $2 billion for the Air Force’s B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber, stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City.
  • NDAA supports the Air Force Global Strike Commands’ strategy to enhance science, technology, innovation and collaboration through outreach to academic institutions and researchers.

Fort Polk:

  • NDAA fully funds a 2.1% pay raise for our troops that will benefit the troops and their families who are stationed at Louisiana bases.
  • NDAA increases our troop levels through the military branches, including a 5,000 troop increase for active duty Army, 4,000 increase for Navy, 1,000 increase for Marine Corps, 4,100 increase for Air Force, and a 3,700 troop increase for reservists across the Defense Department.
  • These additional troops have the opportunity to train at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk.
  • NDAA would prohibit another round of base closures that, in the past, have put Fort Polk at risk.

Belle Chasse:

  • $1.94 billion for 24 Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets produced by Boeing Co., 10 more than the administration requested.

Senator Kennedy’s Amendments Included in the NDAA:

Sen. Kennedy sponsored an amendment to help ensure our military members and their families are getting the commissaries benefit they rightfully deserve.  Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office made three recommendations to help improve the program including: the Department of Defense (DOD) address limitations identified in its savings rate methodology; develop a plan with objectives, goals, and timeframes to improve efficiency in product management; and conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses for service contracts and distribution options. 

The goal of this amendment is to push DOD to save money from the commissary service by targeting waste and inefficiencies instead of reducing service or raising prices on military families.  Our military has volunteered, sacrificed, and devoted their lives to serve and protect our country, and they deserve no less than the best.  I care deeply about our state, and I will work to ensure that the most crucial needs of Louisiana's armed service members are met. 

Sen. Kennedy also cosponsored an amendment to require the Army to conduct a report on the Army Combat Training Centers and current resident cyber capabilities and training.  The purpose of this report is to find and correct potential training readiness shortfalls and ensure pre-rotational cyber training needs are met.  This supports ongoing cyber initiatives in Shreveport-Bossier City and is an economic win for Louisiana. 

After eight years of careless cuts to our national defense budget, we are finally recapitalizing and reinvesting in our national security force.  This year’s NDAA begins to rebuild our military by improving our readiness, equipment modernization, and military dominance.