Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Planned Parenthood files Medicaid lawsuit; Changing NOLA teacher demographics; College tuition hikes driven by funding cuts and; Louisiana ranks first in ACT gains

Planned Parenthood files Medicaid lawsuit

The ongoing fight between Gov. Bobby Jindal and Planned Parenthood continued to escalate on Tuesday, when the health-care provider filed a federal suit against the state for killing its Medicaid provider agreement. The Advocate’s Marsha Shuler reports:

Planned Parenthood estimates more than 5,200 of its patients using Baton Rouge and New Orleans facilities could lose access to health care on Sept. 2, if the court doesn’t step in and stop Jindal from ending the state’s Medicaid agreement with the group’s Louisiana affiliate. Terminating the contract also threatens the future of the Baton Rouge facility because 60 percent of its operating revenue comes from Medicaid, the lawsuit states. The clinics in Baton Rouge and New Orleans were paid $730,000 by the state and federal government Medicaid program last year for services, such as cancer screenings, well-woman exams, sexually transmitted testing and treatment, and birth control. About one-fourth of the state’s population receive healthcare coverage from Medicaid. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services already warned the Department of Health and Hospitals, the state’s health agency, that Jindal’s action violated federal law because it discriminates against a qualified provider, in this case Planned Parenthood. Federal courts in Indiana and Arizona have struck down attempts in those states to defund Planned Parenthood because of the abortion services it provides in some areas of the U.S.

This type of defunding would significantly reduce access to basic healthcare services for thousands of women across the state.  As LBP’s Steve Spires noted:

“Louisiana needs more doctors and clinics, not less, with the high number of uninsured adults,” said Steve Spires, a senior policy analyst with Louisiana Budget Project, a Baton Rouge-based research group that looks at government policies from a lower- and middle-income perspective. He noted that Baton Rouge and New Orleans have among the highest HIV infection rates in the country.


Changing NOLA teacher demographics

Public school teachers in New Orleans are whiter, less experienced and leave their jobs faster than before Hurricane Katrina. According to a report released on Monday by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, 71 percent of teachers were African American before Katrina, compared to 49 percent in the 2013-2014 school year. The study also found little correlation between teacher experience and student achievement. Danielle Dreilinger of reports:

But there’s a twist. Because there are fewer students and fewer jobs now, the veterans still made up almost one third of the teaching corps last year.  A number of studies have found that more experience does not correlate with better test scores. However, for New Orleanians, the question of who leads a classroom is as much about culture and social cohesion as pass rates.


College tuition hikes driven by funding cuts
Steep cuts to state support for higher education spending across the country have led to significant tuition increases, making college less affordable for families. It is these budget cuts, not increasing administration or construction costs (as some claim), that are the driving force behind higher tuition. Michael Mitchell with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports:

States have cut $13.3 billion from annual funding for higher education since 2008, after adjusting for inflation — or roughly $1,800 per student.  Every state except Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming spent less per student in the 2014-15 school year than before the recession. These cuts have led to steep tuition increases that threaten to put college out of reach for more students.  Annual published tuition at four-year public colleges has risen by $2,068, or 29 percent, since the 2007-08 school year.  Many public colleges have also scaled back important campus services like computer labs and library services.

Here in Louisiana, state support per student has been cut almost $5,000 since 2008, more than any other state. At the same time, tuition has gone up almost $3,000–an increase of 67 percent.


Louisiana ranks first in ACT gains

In its annual “Condition of College and Career Readiness” report released today, the ACT listed Louisiana as the state with the highest gains among states that test 100 percent of students.  A press release from the Louisiana Department of Education notes:

The report indicates the state’s gain of 0.2 points in the average student’s score topped all states testing 100 percent of students. Louisiana’s performance ranked it third among six such southern states...The report released today builds on a Department of Education report released in July indicating the number of public school students achieving a college-going ACT score had increased by more than 6,300 since 2012.


Number of the Day

79 percent Tuition increases attributable to cuts in state support among public four-year universities (Source: Demos)