Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stephanie Grace: Jindal leaves health care a mess; Teachers union challenges MFP funding for charter schools; Census data makes the case for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit; How the .00003 percent lives

Stephanie Grace: Jindal leaves health care a mess
Louisiana’s health care landscape has changed drastically under Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. Charity hospitals have been privatized, costs are rising for state workers and hospitals are struggling to provide uncompensated care to the uninsured. As The Advocate’s Stephanie Grace points out, the changes haven’t been “pretty” for Louisiana:

The feds rejected Jindal’s initial plan to privatize most of the LSU hospital system, leaving financing in question even though the transition is already well underway. State employees and retirees are howling over changes to health plans offered through the Office of Group Benefits, and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said last week that the administration didn’t follow the prescribed legal procedures before making the changes. Jindal’s staunch refusal to accept the Affordable Care Act’s federal Medicaid expansion is leaving hundreds of thousands of his constituents without insurance and putting enormous pressure on hospitals that still need to provide uncompensated care, often in expensive emergency room settings. And of course, his former secretary of health and hospitals — a job that Jindal knows inside out, given that he once held it — is now being prosecuted by Caldwell’s office.

Additionally, the state’s transition to private management of behavioral health services continues to experience major problems, according to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor. Those issues include reduced staffing levels, higher caseloads, longer wait times and continued problems sharing client information with other providers to improve patient safety.


Teachers union challenges MFP funding for charter schools
A lawsuit filed Monday by the Louisiana Association of Educators against state education authorities challenges the way state spends $60 million per year for certain charter schools. The teachers union says the state cannot fund these charter schools through the Minimum Foundation Program financing formula because they do not qualify as “parish and city school systems” under the state constitution. Thirty-three charter schools authorized by BESE currently receive MFP funds, including seven in East Baton Rouge Parish and six in Orleans Parish. The new suit follows a successful suit in 2012, when the union blocked the state from funding school vouchers with MFP funds.


Census data makes the case for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit
The number of childless adults struggling to make ends meet increased last year. Nationwide, poverty rates for individuals not living in families (e.g. people living alone, unrelated roommates, etc.) and for childless families (e.g. childless couples, elderly families, etc.) climbed to their highest rates in 30 years — 23.3 percent and 6.2 percent in 2013, respectively. Meanwhile, incomes for the typical childless family dropped by nearly $950. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out:

…Childless families and individuals are the only group that the federal tax code taxes into (or deeper into) poverty. That’s in part because the [Earned Income Tax Credit] for childless workers (and for non-custodial parents) is very small… A growing bipartisan group of policymakers — including House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and President Obama — as well as researchers and analysts from across the political spectrum have called for expanding the EITC for these workers. An expansion could both reduce poverty among these workers and encourage more individuals to enter the labor force, as the EITC has done with parents.


How the .00003 percent lives
Wealth-X and UBS recently conducted a “census” of the world’s 2,325 billionaires and came up with a composite of a “63-year-old married guy. He’s got just over $3 billion in the bank, including $600 million in cash. He made his own money on Wall Street. He went to Penn.”

New York magazine looks at the numbers and finds that your typical billionaire – whose ranks are swelling – lives pretty well.

Our representative American billionaire made the bulk of his money in his 40s and 50s in finance. About half of his money is in private investments, like equity in his own firm. He keeps about 20 percent in cash, and a delicious 5 percent in real estate and “luxury assets,” presumably tamed jaguars and yachts with helicopter landing pads. He owns four houses, each worth about $20 million.


Number of the Day
— Louisiana’s rank in the percentage of state’s residents who are African-American (32.3 percent), following Mississippi (37.7 percent) and Washington DC (48.8 percent). Nationally, 12.6 percent of the population is African-American. (Source: 2013 American Community Survey)