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Dan Fagan: National media buys Gov. John Bel Edwards' nursing home scare

The New Orleans Advocate - 5/16/2018

The left-leaning mainstream national media loves a good "the government isn't doing enough to help poor people" story. Other than pushing the "we are a racist nation" narrative, and Donald Trump is evil, it's their favorite kind of story.

The national legacy media swarmed onto the "Louisiana is about to evict seniors from nursing homes" story like flies on garbage earlier this month. CNN's headline read, "Tens of thousands of Louisiana residents could face eviction from nursing and group homes." CNN viewers learned the very threat of cutting funds to nursing homes could end up killing people.

"Our patients are old, they are frail. They have multiple health issues. And the stress of coming to realize that they are going to lose their funding that allows them to stay in a nursing home, and have no other known option, I believe could kill people," said Jim Tucker, CEO of CommCare Corp, a company that operates 12 nursing homes in Louisiana.

CNN also warned Louisiana nursing home residents could find themselves kicked out in the blink of an eye.

"They will have to be discharged from their nursing facility overnight, leaving their families to scramble to find other housing options and the vital healthcare services that they require to continue to live," Mark Berger, director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, told CNN.

CBS News also got in on the act with a story entitled, "Thousands of elderly, disabled face eviction from Louisiana nursing homes over Medicaid cuts."

"It was something I never thought would be ever taken away. I thought I was here forever," 89-year-old Betty Walker, a Baton Rouge nursing home resident, told CBS News.

NBC News introduced its viewers to 38-year-old Jamie Duplechine, a New Orleans quadriplegic who depends on around-the-clock caregivers. Duplechine also has a 17-year old son who has Down syndrome.

"I have staff with me throughout the day and night," Duplechine, who was paralyzed at age 15 in a car accident, told NBC News. "Without them, I'm in a devastating state."

The national media lived up to its fake news persona with the Louisiana nursing home story. The truth is that not a single person was ever going to be kicked out of a nursing home or a single disabled person was ever going to lose their care as a result of budget cuts. How do I know? A lifetime of covering politics, that's how I know.

Louisiana subsidizes its professional sports teams, owned by a billionaire. We also give big subsidies to the movie industry and pay college tuition for thousands of our students. And the budget of the very department responsible for funding nursing homes in our state grew by more than $5 billion in the past three years. The idea that the only place to save money in our state's massive $30 billion budget is by cutting services to our most vulnerable is so ridiculous it makes you wonder about the mental capacity of media members falling for it.

You'll remember early on in his administration Gov. John Bel Edwards threatened to take away LSU football and then TOPS unless legislators raised taxes. So in went $1 billion in new revenue with the implementation of a one-cent sales tax increase. That tax increase expires next month.

If legislators and the governor simply agree to renew half of the one-cent increase, we'll end up paying half a penny less for stuff beginning in June. In the end, that doomsday, earth-shattering, apocalyptic "fiscal cliff" we've been warned about will go away as a result of a half-cent tax cut. That's right, tax cut. Who would have thought our "fiscal cliff" would have been solved with us paying less in taxes than we did the year before?

Renewing the half-cent tax will mean the media will have to move onto warning us about other impending, unavoidable catastrophes that threaten the vibrancy, vigor, and vitality of government. Hopefully the next manufactured "crisis" will not lead to fear, worry and stress for our states' seniors and disabled.


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