Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013

Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013

Millions of poor remain uncovered by the health care law; Government shutdown impacts Louisiana workers; Gov. Bobby Jindal hits D.C. publicity circuit; Arkansas man saves $13,000 through Affordable Care Act; Tulane scholarship program draws new scrutiny $20,644 – The average annual pension benefit received by retirees of state and local government in Louisiana. (Source: National Institute on Retirement Security)

Millions of poor remain uncovered by the health care law
An estimated 8 million impoverished Americans will remain without health coverage next year when the Affordable Care Act takes effect, thanks to their states’ refusal to take advantage of a key provision of the new law. An analysis of Census data by The New York Times found that  approximately two-thirds of the poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance will be left out of the new health insurance marketplaces that began enrolling people this week. Louisiana is among two dozen states that are not extending Medicaid coverage to its poorest residents, even though the federal government will pay for the expansion through 2016 and no less than 90 percent of costs in later years. The Times investigation includes a handy interactive graphic that shows where uninsured Americans live, and which occupational categories will be most affected.

Government shutdown impacts Louisiana workers
More than 2,000 federal workers and National Guard troops in Louisiana are unable to work due to the federal government shutdown, Nola.com reports. More than half of the federal workers are employed at the National Finance Center in eastern New Orleans. These employees would normally be handling human resource and payroll services for more than 170 federal agencies. In addition, 876 of the state’s 10,500 National Guardsmen have been furloughed, amounting to roughly 8 percent of the total force. If the shutdown continues through Friday, other federal agencies with offices in Louisiana could begin sending workers home, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. An even longer shutdown would threaten food programs for pregnant women, children and seniors.

Gov. Bobby Jindal hits D.C. publicity circuit
Gov. Bobby Jindal traveled to the nation’s capital Wednesday to blame President Barack Obama for the government shutdown that was initiated and prolonged by his former Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives. Jindal was in town to seek publicity for himself and other GOP governors in his role as head of the Republican Governors Association. While Jindal embraces the House Tea Party extremists, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli – locked in a tight race for governor of that state – finds himself in a politically perilous spot in a state with 170,000 federal workers who are being victimized by Congress’ failure to carry out its most basic function.

Arkansas man saves $13,000 through Affordable Care Act
Butch Matthews, 61, is a former small business owner from Little Rock, Arkansas. A lifelong Republican, Matthews was skeptical of the Affordable Care Act when it first passed, but he quickly changed his tune when he realized the ACA would save him at least $13,000 a year. As Think Progress reports, Matthews enrolled in a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan for himself and his wife in 1997 that charged a $250 per month premium and had a $2,000 deductible. The price of that policy kept rising even as it covered fewer of his costs, eventually increasing in 2010 to $1,069 per month with a $10,000 deductible. Now, Matthews pays nothing in monthly costs for his mid-level “Silver” policy with a deductible of $750. His old plan was considered to be “Bronze” and had much higher co-pays.

Tulane scholarship program draws new scrutiny
The strange, only-in-Louisiana practice of letting every state legislator and the mayor of New Orleans award a full scholarship to Tulane University each year is the subject of a lengthy investigation in The Advocate. The newspaper found that the abuses in the program that sparked a public outcry in the 1990s are mostly a thing of the past, but that some awards still go to children of the well-connected. The report cites Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, whose scholarship went to the son of St. Tammany Parish district attorney Walter Reed, and New Orleans politicians who gave free rides to the children of their political consultants.

Full disclosure: LBP policy analyst David Gray, the primary author of the Daily Dime, received a scholarship to Tulane University through then-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. This entry was written by LBP Director Jan Moller.

Number of the Day
$20,644 – The average annual pension benefit received by retirees of state and local government in Louisiana. (Source: National Institute on Retirement Security)