Most of Louisiana’s poor left without health coverage
The poorest Louisianans continue to get short-changed by the health care system, and a new report shows the folly of the state’s decision to turn down federal money to help expand health coverage. According to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, 87 percent of Louisiana’s poor, non-elderly adults without insurance will fall into the “coverage gap” — those who are too poor to qualify for subsidies but make too much to qualify for Medicaid coverage. Many of these people are the working poor — typically making less that $10 or $11 an hour — whose employers either don’t offer health coverage or who cannot afford the coverage offered by their employers.
Officials from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration said the report’s estimated number of uninsured adults — at 242,150 — is higher than the state’s estimate of 214,000, and those people can get care thanks to the state’s charity hospital system. However, previous studies have shown people with insurance coverage — like the poor could have purchased with the Louisiana Plan — have better access to care than those without insurance and are more likely to receive preventive screenings that are the key to staying healthy. Recent research has shown expanding coverage reduces mortality rates, making this a life and death issue for Louisianans. And in addition to savings lives, the Legislative Fiscal Office found expanding coverage would save the state millions of dollars.
Louisiana’s economy to boom through 2015, no tax giveaways needed
An oil and gas boom — not corporate welfare given through the tax code — will add jobs and give Louisiana’s economy a boost through 2015, according to the 2014-15 Louisiana Economic Outlook released by Loren Scott at Business Report‘s Top 100 Luncheon. Overall, Louisiana is expected to surpass the 2 million employment mark sometime in 2015 for the first time in the state’s history, the report says, noting the state is currently one of just 12 with more people employed today than at the outset of 2008. But the report also observes: “We cast a wary eye toward three key issues in Louisiana’s future: (1) how much money will be pumped into our economy via BP payments, (2) will the new National Flood Insurance Program be restrained or fully implemented, and (3) what will be the impact of the sequester and other cuts to the Defense Department budget on Louisiana’s substantial military presence?”
Gov. Jindal replaces three members on board that sued oil and gas companies
Gov. Bobby Jindal showed his displeasure with the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East board by replacing three of its members. The board sued 97 oil and gas companies, alleging their activities have led to eroded wetlands and therefore Louisiana has less protection from harsh storms. “The governor has put the interests of the oil and gas industry ahead of his obligation to protect our coastal lands from destruction and our people from catastrophic flooding,” [John Barry, one of the displaced board members] said in a statement. “This is exactly why the people of Louisiana voted overwhelmingly to keep politics out of flood protection, when they stood up after Katrina to demand an independent flood protection authority unfettered by the constraints of political favoritism. Now that process, and the intent of the voters, has been betrayed by raw politics.”
Alexander: It’s time to invest in the future
LSU president F. King Alexander told the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge that Louisiana needs to invest more in higher education. “I don’t think anyone in this room wants to be 49th in educational attainment,” Alexander said. “I don’t want to be a part of a generation that leaves the next generation with less educational and employment opportunities.” Alexander said a $1 investment in a neighbor’s child would produce a $12 return. He added that investments in higher education were linked to lower unemployment and crime rates.