Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014

Federal Contractors will Receive Raise in Minimum Wage; Many HIV/AIDS Patients in Louisiana blocked from Obamacare Coverage; Number of Louisianans signed up for health insurance nears 33,000; and As costs for a degree rise, so does the cost of having no degree. 2,000 - Number of low-income Louisianans with HIV/AIDS at risk of losing coverage assistance in the Louisiana federal healthcare marketplace. (Source: The Advocate)

Federal Contractors will Receive Raise in Minimum Wage
President Obama signed an executive order Wednesday raising the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10. The move is part of an overall effort to raise the minimum wage for all U.S. workers to $10.10 an hour that is stalled on Capitol Hill. A change to the federal minimum wage would be a boon to Louisiana workers, as the Pelican State is one of only five states that have no state mandated minimum wage.  But, Louisiana lawmakers will have a chance to change that fact in the upcoming legislative session.  Senator Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D- Baton Rouge, has pre-filed SB 46 which would set Louisiana’s minimum wage at $10 an hour.

Many HIV/AIDS Patients in Louisiana blocked from Obamacare Coverage
Thanks to a technical provision in insurance policies offered by three of the four companies participating in the federal marketplace exchange for Louisiana, many low-income patients with HIV or AIDS will be unable to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The provisions restrict third party payments for premiums — the same third-party payments used by a federal program to help these patients afford insurance.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBS), the largest insurer in the state, claims its stance is an effort to prevent fraud. But advocates for the HIV/AIDS community say it’s merely an effort to keep high-cost patients off the company rolls.

Number of Louisianans signed up for health insurance nears 33,000
New numbers out from the federal Department of Health & Human Services show that 32,684 Louisianans have enrolled in new marketplace health plans as of Feb. 1. While the numbers are lower than reform advocates wanted, monthly enrollment is increasingly quickly with six weeks to go until the March 31 deadline. In January alone, nearly as many Louisianans signed up for plans as in the first three months of enrollment combined, when the website was marred with problems.

On the brighter side, 28 percent of those who have signed up are between ages 18 and 35 — a generally healthier group — higher than the national average of 25 percent. It is important for the marketplace to have a good mix of older and younger, sicker and healthier enrollees to prevent premiums from spiking and to keep plans affordable. So far, 85 percent of those who picked a plan received financial assistance in the form of tax credits.

As costs for a degree rise, so does the cost of having no degree
While Gov. Jindal expects to raise an additional $88 million for higher education on the backs of parents and college students, choosing to not take on massive debt for a degree is becoming even less of an option. According to research from the Pew Charitable Trusts, those between the ages of 25 and 32 — considered the heart of the “Millennial” generation — who do not have a degree are much more likely to live in poverty than their peers with a college education. “College-educated Millennials also are more likely to be employed full time than their less-educated counterparts (89% vs. 82%) and significantly less likely to be unemployed (3.8% vs. 12.2%).”

2,000 - Number of low-income Louisianans with HIV/AIDS at risk of losing coverage assistance in the Louisiana federal healthcare marketplace. (Source: The Advocate)