Food banks hit by government shutdown
The federal government shutdown may soon start taking food out of Louisianan’s mouths. “It is putting our food supply at risk,” State Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain said. “In Louisiana, the impasse’s immediate impact is on food banks’ administrative costs. If the shutdown extends past October, it could result in empty bellies.” The state Department of Agriculture and Forestry usually divides any unspent money from its budget between the local food banks, but with the federal government closed, that may not happen this year. In addition, Louisiana school children who receive free or reduced lunch may be affected after the end of the month.
Wal-mart to pay the bill for frenzied shoppers
After a power outage removed the limits on debit cards for food stamp recipients, some local Wal-Mart stores allowed customers to use them anyway. The result was chaos, with customers emptying shelves. But state officials said Wal-Mart will be stuck with that bill. “The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services’ spokesman Trey Williams said the retailers who chose not to use the emergency procedures that limit sales up to $50 per cardholder during an emergency would be responsible for any additional amount spent over eligible benefit balances.”
Telemedicine helping inmates get medical care
One of the question marks over Gov. Bobby Jindal’s hospital privatization plan was how it would affect care for inmates, who received most of their treatment from the charity hospital system. It seems officials are filling part of that gap with telemedicine. “Dr. Raman Singh, medical director for the Department of Corrections, said telemedicine is supposed to supplement the traditional patient-doctor encounter. Offenders can go off site for doctor visits if needed, but a larger telemedicine program should cut back on the need for many outside medical trips.”
Engines of Innovation: How Cities and Metros are Leading America’s Economic Revival
An event hosted by the Louisiana New Leaders Council and Progressive Policy Institute this Friday and Saturday will discuss how local leadership can solve problems that seem stalled in the national government and how to build a highly skilled base of workers to attract businesses and grow the economy. You can see the entire agenda and register here.
Medical debt takes on a dark new shade
When faced with a $5,700 dental bill that her insurance would only partially cover, Patricia Gannon signed up for the financing plan her dentist’s office offered. Now she pays a third of her Social Security check on a loan with 23 percent interest and the threat of a 33 percent penalty rate if she misses or is late on a payment. Patients across the country are finding themselves in the same trap, according to the New York Times. While some financing plans offer reasonable terms, many have high interest rates and brutal penalty rates for missing a payment. Others are presented as financing, but are really a credit card. These plans are especially harmful to senior citizens and others living on fixed incomes.