Wednesday, August 13

Wednesday, August 13

State employees will pay significantly more for health coverage; Urban Institute outlines fiscal impact of not expanding Medicaid; Louisiana gets mixed reviews on child welfare scorecard; Grant funds support healthy foods initiative

State employees will pay significantly more for their health coverage
In the latest edition of “Focus on the Fisc,” the Legislative Fiscal Office (LFO) takes an in-depth look at upcoming changes to the health plans for current and retired state workers. The changes are needed after Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature drained most of a nearly $500 million cash reserve in the Office of Group Benefits as a way to plug holes elsewhere in the budget. This profligacy means state employees and retirees face dramatic costs increases through higher deductibles, co-pays and prescription drug costs.

“In order to slow the current OGB monthly “burn rate” of spending $16.1 M more than monthly revenue collections, OGB is modifying the health plan options for all state employees (and participating school board employees) and anticipating these changes to result in $44.7 M in overall expenditure savings and the prescription drug changes to result in an additional $69 M in expenditures savings all in FY 15.”

Urban Institute outlines fiscal impact of not expanding Medicaid
Add the Urban Institute to the list of organizations that say states are missing out on economic opportunity – not to mention better health – by refusing to implement the Affordable Care Act. Louisiana is among 24 states that have chosen not to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults. These decisions collectively mean 6.7 million Americans won’t be covered in 2016 due to choices made by their governors and state legislatures.

While there are obvious health implications for the uninsured, the Urban Institute reports that states will also be leaving significant money on the table and forgoing an opportunity to expand job growth and economic activity. “These states are foregoing $423.6 billion in federal Medicaid funds from 2013 to 2022, which will lessen economic activity and job growth. Hospitals in these 24 states are also slated to lose a $167.8 billion (31 percent) boost in Medicaid funding that was originally intended to offset major cuts to their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.”

According to the report, Louisiana’s 10-year total cost to expand Medicaid is projected to be $1.24 billion. Medicaid expansion dollars left on the table as a result of not expanding Medicaid are projected to be $15.8 billion, while hospital reimbursement costs (payments made to hospitals for covering the uninsured) will drop by $8 billion.

Louisiana gets mixed reviews on child welfare scorecard
The Pelican State has low rates of homelessness but ranks poorly on education outcomes according to a new scorecard that places the state 39th on a ranking of best and worst states for underprivileged children. While that’s a bit better than Louisiana’s usual ranking near the bottom (thanks Mississippi) of such lists, the study by contains decidedly mixed news. Louisiana is an almost-respectable 37th for “early foundations and economic well being” and “health” (the latter could be due to the state’s success in covering low-income children through LaCHIP), it ranks a dismal 49th for education. Louisiana also fared poorly for percentage of children in single-parent families (49) and percentage of children in families living below poverty (47).

Grant funds support healthy foods initiative
In an effort to combat food deserts and provide healthier options at small neighborhood stores, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation has funded the Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative in East Baton Rouge. Four neighborhood stores received grants that will allow them to offer fresh fruit and produce to their customers in areas where they would otherwise not be conveniently available for purchase.


 Number of the Day

23.5 million: the number of people living in food deserts in the United Sates (More than half of those people -13.5 million- are low-income). (Source: USDA’s Economic Research Service)