Wednesday, Nov. 6

Wednesday, Nov. 6

Employers were dropping health coverage long before Obamacare; Medicaid program running a $50 million shortfall; Life sentences to stand for many juvenile offenders; and DHH: More privatization please. $105 million – The amount Louisiana could have saved if it had chosen to expand health coverage for its poorest residents. (Source: Legislative Fiscal Office)

Employers were dropping health coverage long before Obamacare
Opponents of health care reform insist that employers are going to start dropping health insurance coverage for their employees, that health insurance premiums are going to skyrocket and families won’t be able to afford coverage. Unfortunately, the data shows all that to be true — and that it has been happening since long before the Affordable Care Act existed. With the reforms mandated by the health care reform law, families will now have new options to find coverage, get subsidies to help make coverage affordable and won’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

Medicaid program running a $50 million shortfall
The state Medicaid program is facing a $50 million deficit, the latest in a series of shortfalls for the health-care program for the poor, elderly and disabled. But state officials insist that cuts won’t be necessary this time, and instead plan to ask legislators for more money to fill the gap. Worth noting: The state budget would likely be in better shape had legislators chosen to accept federal dollars to provide low-income Louisianans with private health coverage. Expanding Medicaid would have brought in another $105 million in the current fiscal year – money that could have been used to fill gaps like the kind Louisiana currently faces.

Life sentences to stand for many juvenile offenders
Many inmates who were sentenced to life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles will stay in prison after a ruling from the Louisiana Supreme Court. They had filed for new sentences after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that life sentences for juveniles violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The state court ruled that the ruling only applied to those convicted after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling July 25, 2012. “We are disappointed in the ruling,” Dana Kaplan, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana in New Orleans, told “Given that the United States Supreme Court clearly ruled that a mandatory life without parole sentence was cruel and unusual punishment, it is a disappointment that the Louisiana Supreme Court has determined that whether such mandatory punishment can be given out is set only by the date of the offense.”

DHH: More privatization please
As Louisiana’s historic effort to privatize its state-run charity hospital system takes root, the next phase of health-care privatization is already in the planning stages. The Department of Health and Hospitals has released a “concept paper” for how to outsource the management of long-term supports and services to private managed care companies. But some health-care interests are wary, and asking for more time to see how the previous privatization efforts work out. Stakeholders … are hesitant in the wake of the Bayou Health launch over a year ago. … So far there’s been little evidence Bayou Health is saving money or improving care, but there are anecdotes of patients unable to find specialists, doctors being paid late and complaints from providers about the unpredictability of the program. …

A 2012 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study found that private managed care has had mixed results at improving access to care nationally, and that few states have had success in achieving savings. The states that do see savings tend to be wealthier states, which have more flexibility when it comes to paying administrative costs and paying providers.

$105 million – The amount Louisiana could have saved if it had chosen to expand health coverage for its poorest residents. (Source: Legislative Fiscal Office)