To the Voters of the City of Natchitoches

Posey-MayorTo the voters of the City of Natchitoches, I want to express my heartfelt thanks for the support we received in the Mayor’s race. Natchitoches is a truly unique place with special people, and I am humbled to be re-elected to this position. Our message has been, and will continue to be, that a unified Natchitoches offers unlimited possibilities for the future. I believe in that future—for us and for our children. I pledge my sincere “commitment to serve” to ALL the citizens of this wonderful community.

Again, my deepest thanks,

Lee Posey

JAZZ TO BE FEATURED PROMINENTLY AT NATCHITOCHES JAZZ/R&B FESTIVAL

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Some Natchitoches Jazz lovers started a festival some 22 years ago that they first referred to as “The Natchitoches Jazz Festival” and, as the name suggested, it principally featured jazz music. The following year, organizers decided to incorporate other types of music into the event and the Natchitoches Jazz R&B Festival was born.

This year’s festival which will be held on the downtown Natchitoches Riverbank on April 15th & 16th, will be headlined by Grand Funk Railroad, Midnight Star, and a tribute to Elvis Presely featuring James Burton and Estelle Brown on Saturday night, by Grammy-winning zydeco legend Wayne Toups on Friday night. In between, there will be 30 acts featured on 4 stages, representing many genres of music, from rock & roll, to country, to blues, to funk, to soul, to R&B, and yes, plenty of jazz.

The Jazz aficionado who may believe that the inclusion of all these other types of music has “watered down” the amount of jazz presented at the event, will be happy to learn that that is definitely not the case.

First of all, this year as has been the case nearly every year since the festival’s inception, Saturday’s events will be kicked off with a performance by the NSU Jazz Orchestra, which will feature around 25 musicians on stage.

A true jazz lover, if he or she desires, could then spend the entire day at the Jazz Stage in the beautiful setting of Beau Jardin, which is nestled under the spreading Oak Trees behind the Roque House.

Jazz Stage Chairman, Luke Brouillette, says that the Jazz Stage will feature an eclectic mix of different types of jazz music sure to please the ear of any jazz fan. When asked to outline this year’s acts he had this to say “I’m really excited about this year’s lineup on the jazz stage. At 1:00PM we’re going to hear from Dave Duplissey who is a very fine saxophonist that has been inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame twice. You can find Dave’s many recordings online at cdbaby and iTunes. At 2:15 we’ll be listening to the NSU Jazz Combo. Don’t let the fact that they are a school group fool you – these guys are dangerously good and some heavy players. At 3:30 The Cypress Lake Sextet takes the stage. The sextet is comprised mostly of music faculty of ULL. These guys are jazz monsters – you don’t want to miss it. At 4:45 is the Sabine River Brass Band playing in a traditional New Orleans brass band style that will get you feeling good and ready to dance. At 6:00 is the Lukejazz Quintet featuring jazz styles with a contemporary edge from some of the leading area musicians.”

Brouillette says that Beau Jardin is the perfect setting to enjoy jazz music. “You will be able to sit under the massive Oak Tree, sip a little wine or other beverages that will be provided there, and, listen to some of the finest Jazz Music you can hear anywhere,”. He added “In between songs and acts, you will be serenaded by birds and water rushing down the gorgeous water fall. It just doesn’t get much better than that.”

For more information concerning the Natchitoches Jazz R&B Festival, go to www.natchjazzfest.com

Ponderings with Doug – April 1, 2016

 

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Doug De Graffenried – First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana

I want you to verify my automotive hypothesis. All you must do is watch. My thesis is that men driving big trucks are not capable of driving those trucks while on their cell phones. Further my thesis states the men in big trucks, unable to drive are holding their cell phones up to their right ears. I developed my thesis when the dude in the big red Dooley ran a stop sign while on his cell phone. I hope he can read lips! The other Dooley driver couldn’t seem to fathom that the green arrow pointing left means one is free to turn left. Perhaps they were listening to driving instructions on their cell phones. Both of these guys were driving on our roads on Tuesday. I’d been behind left turn guy long enough to know he was a “distracted driver.”I could tell red truck driver was going to run the stop sign, so I sat there and observed rather than being the author of “this week I had a wreck” article .Maybe I should count my blessings that I didn’t encounter some other drivers.

When police noticed water pouring out of the cab of a truck traveling down a road in China in June 2009, they assumed the truck had mechanical problems and pulled it over. Instead of a leaky radiator, the officers found the driver naked and soaking wet from having just taken a shower—behind the wheel. He explained that his air conditioner has broken, and his wife (in the passenger seat) helped him rig up a “sprinkler kettle system” to keep him cool, complete with a bicycle wheel suspended above him to accommodate a shower curtain. To keep the dashboard dry, his wife held a sheet of plastic over it. The man was cited for reckless driving.

Concerned drivers in Needham, Massachusetts, called to notify police that a vehicle was driving erratically, crossing double yellow lines, and tailgating other cars. When police caught up to the driver they found him eating a bowl of cereal with milk. His excuse for reckless driving, “I was hungry.”

Amanda Meyer, a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida, was driving her cruiser when she glanced down at her dashboard mounted computer. When she looked up, there as a tanker truck stopped at a railroad crossing. She swerved…but not in time to avoid the 40-mph collision. Thankfully, the gas tanker was empty, but Meyer, who suffered minor injuries, was cited for reckless driving and fined. $149.

Years ago when James Poole was my District Superintendent he told me about this one:

VINTON, La. — Police were surprised when a driver wearing only a towel got out of a van, then got back in and sped off. They were stunned when the van hit a tree and disgorged 20 naked people.”The Lord told them to get rid of their belongings and go to Louisiana,so they did.” Vinton Police Chief Dennis Drouillard said.

All 20 were from Floydada, Texas, about 550 miles from the southwest Louisiana town of Vinton.Driver Sammy Rodriguez and his brother, Danny, both said they were Pentecostal preachers, Drouillard said.

James Poole was pastoring the Methodist church in Vinton, Louisiana at the time. He tells the story with much more humor than the newspaper did. Talk about distracted drivers!

The Bible advises us to “be careful how you walk.” Maybe an updated translation would read, “Be careful how you drive.”

State Capitol & NSU will join 8 other ULS schools to greet lawmakers. ULS Day at the Capitol April 11

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NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University will join other schools in the University of Louisiana System for ULS Day at the Capitol on Monday, April 11. Each campus in the 9-university system will staff a table in Memorial Hall at the Louisiana State Capitol from 1-5 p.m. to promote the theme “Making Higher Education a Priority.” Students, faculty, staff, alumni, stakeholders and community partners of the university are invited to participate and connect with legislators. For information on NSU’s participation in the ULS Day at the Capitol, contact Leah Jackson, NSU’s director of Informational Services, at (318) 357-4553 or jacksonl@nsula.edu.

Disaster Recovery Centers Open in Natchitoches, Natchitoches Parish, and Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish, for Louisiana Survivors

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BATON ROUGE, La. – Disaster recovery centers will open Thursday, March 31, in Natchitoches, Natchitoches Parish, and Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish, to help Louisiana flood survivors. The centers are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays until further notice. The disaster recovery centers are located at the following addresses: Sheriff’s Office of Community Services 726 3rd Street Natchitoches, La.

Softball Game Cancelled – NSU v La Tech

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RUSTON – Wednesday’s softball game between Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech has been postponed because of expected severe thunderstorms in North Louisiana. The game has been rescheduled for April 12 at 6 p.m. in Ruston. NSU (20-11) will return to action Friday when the Lady Demons host Lamar in a 3 p.m. doubleheader.

How to Stop Medicaid Fraud

By John Kennedy State Treasurer
Not long ago, employees at a Minnesota mental health agency blew the whistle on what they described as years of Medicaid fraud. Officials are still tallying up the damage, but the fraud is estimated to be in the millions of dollars.

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John Kennedy

Do a Google search for Medicaid fraud in Louisiana, and you’ll find that it’s not just a problem for our neighbors in the north. Medicaid fraud is a problem across the U.S., and that includes Louisiana.

Here in Louisiana, a Prairieville couple started a personal health care business funded solely with Medicaid money. Then they skipped the mandatory training that their workers were supposed to receive to become certified personal care attendants. Not only did this couple bill the Medicaid program more than $7 million, but they put their patients’ lives at risk by assigning them care workers who couldn’t even perform basic life-saving measures.

The Medicaid program is big and complex. It’s ripe for fraud and abuse. It’s no surprise that people are cheating the system. And, in Louisiana, Medicaid is an $8.3 billion program. Dr. Donald Berwick, former administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama, testified to Congress that 10% of Medicaid spending is fraudulent. That’s $830 million in Louisiana.

We’re struggling as a state right now. We’re talking about making drastic cuts to public services. We ought to be talking about taking drastic measures against Medicaid fraud.

Fraud comes in different forms. Some of it’s easy to prevent. For example, California uses data analytics (the science of using algorithms to examine raw data in order to draw conclusions from the data), similar to that used by credit card companies, to identify provider billing trends and anomalies that indicate fraud, thereby stopping the fraud before a fraudulent claim is paid. Front-end anti-fraud measures like this save more taxpayer money than trying to recover the funds after the fact, sometimes referred to as the “chase-and-pay” approach.

Though technically not fraud, we also need to discourage Medicaid patients from treating emergency rooms like a primary care doctor’s office. We can place community health workers in ER waiting rooms to redirect to private providers those with problems that aren’t really emergencies. Houston’s Memorial Hermann Hospital accomplishes this through the Patient Navigator Program. We can also require copays for emergency care for nonemergencies.

Additionally, we need to ensure that those receiving Medicaid actually are eligible for it. This is a bigger problem than you might think. Pre-enrollment investigations (including background checks) of applicants to make sure they qualify for Medicaid is vitally important.

In Louisiana, Bayou Health is the way most Medicaid patients receive care. Five Managed Care Organizations, or MCOs, administer the program. They pay the doctors and the other providers. The state pays the MCOs a fixed amount per month, per Medicaid patient to manage the patient’s care, and the MCOs pay the doctors and other providers a portion at the fixed per member, per month rate to treat the patient. Those rates are where the money is. Overpayments due to fraud trigger a higher rate, as a Washington state audit of its MCOs shows. The incentive to root out the fraud, or the payments that shouldn’t be made, can be strengthened because each year’s new rates are based on last year’s rates.

Do the math. If we stop just a fraction of the fraud – and there’s probably much more than that – we’d save the state between $150 million and $200 million a year. Think about that. We wouldn’t have to worry as much about how to pay for TOPS. We wouldn’t have to worry as much about how to pay our hard-working teachers. All we’ve got to do is keep a better eye on the Medicaid cash register. Right now, we’re keeping the cash register drawer open and asking people not to help themselves to any money while we go on break. Then we’re paying them for every dollar that’s stolen.

What we also need to do is put more auditors at the state Department of Health and Hospitals, as envisioned by House Bill 89 in the 2016 special session, which failed to pass. We need to give each auditor a desk, a computer and a coffee cup with his name on it. We need to let them know that what they’re going to be doing for years to come is stopping the state from making fraudulent Medicaid payments. And we need to put them to work now.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2016
Contact: Michelle Millhollon
(225) 342-0012

The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission.  The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal.  If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.