Tuesday, Oct. 29

Tuesday, Oct. 29

SNAP cuts will affect nearly 30,000 Louisiana veterans; LSU president makes case for more state support at Baton Rouge Press Club; Senior citizens get drug savings under the Affordable Care Act; The lasting impacts of poverty on the brain; and Tea Party discontent rooted in economic stagnation. $756 – The savings per person in Louisiana from an Affordable Care Act provision that reduces out-of-pocket prescription drug payments for Medicare recipients (Source: Nola.com)

SNAP cuts will affect nearly 30,000 Louisiana veterans
Hundreds of thousands of veterans – including nearly 30,000 in Louisiana – will be among the 48 million Americans who will see their food benefits reduced this week when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) expires. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities writes: For low-income veterans, who may be unemployed, working in low-wage jobs, or disabled, SNAP provides an essential support that enables them to purchase nutritious food for their families. … Many veterans returning from service face challenges in finding work. While the overall unemployment rate for veterans is lower than the national average, the unemployment rate for recent veterans (serving in September 2001 to the present) remains high, at 10.1 percent in September 2013. About one-quarter of recent veterans reported service-connected disabilities in 2011, which can impact their ability to provide for their families: households with a veteran with a disability that prevents them from working are about twice as likely to lack access to adequate food than households without a disabled member.

LSU president makes case for more state support at Baton Rouge Press Club
LSU’s president once again laid out his case for more state funding to reporters and guests at the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday. In order for LSU to drive economic development in Louisiana, and become a national player in the world of research, LSU President F. King Alexander said a few things have to happen: The state needs to stop slashing the university’s budget; the Legislature needs to give LSU control to set its own tuition rates and the university must identify areas where it can meet the state’s needs, such as in agriculture and engineering. The Jindal administration has reduced funding for the state’s colleges and universities my roughly $700 million since 2008, reducing the total state support for higher education to its lowest level since the 1950s.

Senior citizens get drug savings under the Affordable Care Act
The Obama administration reported Monday that a key provision in the Affordable Care Act saved Medicare recipients $2.3 billion – an average of $834 per beneficiary — by reducing out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs. The per-recipient savings averaged $756 for Louisianans. As Nola.com reports, the health law phased out a mandate that required recipients under the Part D drug benefit to pay a larger portion of drug costs until they reach the “catastrophic” stage. In 2013, that coverage gap starts when Medicare recipients hit a total of $2,970 in drug costs, and ends at the catastrophic stage, now $4,750. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services also announced Monday that the standard Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $104.90 in 2014, the same as in 2013. The Medicare Part B deductible will also remain unchanged at $147.

The lasting impacts of poverty on the brain
Earlier this year, researchers from Harvard and Princeton published a study that showed poverty impedes cognitive functioning by using so much of the brain’s limited bandwidth that the impoverished have fewer cognitive resources left over to succeed at other skills – like parenting, education or work. Now, the Atlantic highlights another study that shows the longer-term effects of poverty on the brain’s development. After following 49 rural, white children of varying incomes from aged 9 until they turned 24, researchers have determined that those who grew up poor later had impaired brain function as adults: Poor children, in effect, had more problems regulating their emotions as adults (regardless of what their income status was at 24). These same patterns of “dysregulation” in the brain have been observed in people with depression, anxiety disorders, aggression and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Tea Party discontent rooted in economic stagnation
The Washington Post sent a reporter to Rome, Ga. – about 90 minutes northwest of Atlanta – in search for answers as to why so many House Republicans are furious at President Barack Obama and willing to oppose him at every turn. They found Tom Hackett, whose specialty meat business just went under, and rural economies that are struggling mightily. Forty-five House Republicans have most consistently pushed their caucus to brinkmanship over the past several years, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting patterns. On average, the economy in the districts those Republicans represent is significantly worse than it is in the nation at large.

“The median income in those districts last year was 7 percent lower than the national median, according to the Census Bureau. The unemployment rate averaged 10 percent. That was almost two percentage points higher than the national rate, and two percentage points higher than the overall rate in the states that contain each district. The epicenter of that economic distress lies in the Deep South.

$756 – The savings per person in Louisiana from an Affordable Care Act provision that reduces out-of-pocket prescription drug payments for Medicare recipients (Source: Nola.com)