Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Louisiana third-worst state for income inequality; Health chief, auditor clash over Medicaid report; Louisiana’s roads are still terrible; and Beam: Rankings don’t mean much unless politicians act

Louisiana third-worst state for income inequality
The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual American Community Survey this morning, which found that while America added more than 2.3 million jobs in 2013, most states did not see an improvement in income levels or poverty rates.

Although wealthy states tend to have lower poverty rates, they don’t necessarily have the most equitable distribution of income. In fact, the distribution of incomes was especially imbalanced in a number of the wealthiest states. California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, all among the states with the highest incomes, were each among the states with the most top-heavy income distributions.

The states with the lowest incomes, however, also did not perform especially well in income equality. Notably, Louisiana, which had a median household income more than $6,000 below the U.S. median, was also the third-worst state for income inequality.”

Louisiana’s poverty rate was 19.8 percent last year, which was essentially unchanged from 2012 even though the state’s workforce grew to record levels as construction and manufacturing continued to expand. Louisiana’s poverty rate is the nation’s third highest behind Mississippi and New Mexico, while our 27.7 percent child poverty rate is fourth highest.


Health chief, auditor clash over Medicaid report
Louisiana health officials continued to defend a review of the state’s new Medicaid managed-care program that has been criticized by state auditors for being shoddy and replete with errors.

State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said the report “fully complies” with the law legislators adopted requiring the “transparency” report that includes the data lawmakers can use to analyze the performance of the private managed-care networks hired by the state to handle Medicaid services through what is called the Bayou Health program.

An August report by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera found that the state’s evaluation was based on unreliable numbers, and that the state has failed to adequately back up its claim that the privatization scheme saved $135 million.


Louisiana’s roads are still terrible
A failure to spend money on basic maintenance caused Louisiana to drop to 40th in a national ranking of highway conditions, The Advocate reports. Just three years ago, Louisiana placed 24th on the list compiled annually by the Reason Foundation.

The report comes just a week after the Louisiana Transportation Funding Task Force met to discuss whether or not $400 million in new financing needed for bridges and roads would materialize by 2019.


Beam: Rankings don’t mean much unless politicians act
Hardly a day passes without a new report that shows where Louisiana ranks on one some health, economic or quality of life indicator. Indeed, such reports are the lifeblood of news organizations everywhere, not to mention news aggregators like the Daily Dime.

The inimitable Jim Beam of the Lake Charles American-Press reads the rankings, too, and catalogues them in his latest column. But Beam, who has been chronicling Louisiana politics far longer than most of us have been alive, says the numbers don’t mean much unless policymakers are willing to use the information.

This detailed information about Louisiana is interesting and informative. However, it doesn’t mean much if our political leaders don’t use it to tackle some of the causes of costly auto insurance, expensive health care coverage and having far too many people in prison. Unfortunately, many of the bad rankings have been with us a long time.


Number of the Day:

19.8 – The percentage of households living below poverty line in Louisiana (Source: