Oct. 19: Senate candidates debate health care

Oct. 19: Senate candidates debate health care

The five major candidates vying for Louisiana’s U.S. Senate met at Louisiana Tech University on Tuesday for their first televised debate.

The five major candidates vying for Louisiana’s U.S. Senate met at Louisiana Tech University on Tuesday for their first televised debate. On the topic of health care, opinions of President Obama’s signature health law predictably broke down along partisan lines. The ACA, which through its Medicaid expansion provision is bringing health coverage to more than 300,000 low-income Louisiana adults since July 1 and is projected to save the state $677 million over five years, remains a hot political topic. Tyler Bridges recounts the exchange in The Advocate:

The three Republicans all panned the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, while the two Democrats said it has provided needed care to the poor. At one point, Campbell said Kennedy ought to apologize for saying during campaign events that he would rather drink weed killer than support Obamacare. Campbell said it was an inappropriate joke about suicide. “Mental health is not a joking matter,” agreed Boustany.

Nola.com/The Times Picayune’s Richard Rainey detailed the discussion of what candidates would change in the law:

Asked what they would change about the Affordable Care Act, Kennedy and Fayard set the goal posts. Kennedy wanted it repealed completely. Fayard said she supported it without saying what she would change. Campbell said he wanted to attract more younger people into the ACA and make it easier for small businesses to participate. Boustany wanted to emphasize the patient-doctor relationship. Fleming, however, went after Boustany, accusing him of agreeing with 80 percent of Obamacare. “I never said I agree with 80 percent of Obamacare. That is absolutely false,” Boustany said. Fleming doubled down, saying he had documentation that Boustany did. “You can run but you can’t hide, Charles,” Fleming said.


Promising school integration models

Research shows that socioeconomic integration of schools  – mixing students from different economic backgrounds in the same school – helps students from struggling families get ahead. The Century Foundation has documented the benefits of racial and socioeconomic integration for some time. And while providing more financial resources is linked to better outcomes for high poverty school districts, studies show that integration brings even greater benefits. Now, in a new report, The Century Foundation’s Richard D. Kahlenberg highlights some of the promising lessons learned from integration efforts across the country:

Most of the districts profiled use public school choice and incentives (such as magnet schools), rather than compulsory busing, to achieve integration. Many use a system called “controlled choice,” in which families choose from a variety of special options and districts honor choice with an eye to socioeconomic integration.


Stronger safety net could boost innovation

A strong social safety net is important for innovation –  along with a tight job market. That’s because many would-be entrepreneurs need the assurance of a fallback job and/or social supports should they strike out with their business venture. Danny Vinik has the story for Politico:

Why is business dynamism declining? Many economists point to burdensome regulations like occupational licensing laws and housing rules as the main culprits. But a rising school of thought holds that a weak job market is to blame, at least in part. Some Americans criticize “cradle-to-grave” social benefits in other countries as leading to laziness, and take pride in the U.S.’s focus on individual self-reliance. But these economists suggest that this supposed strength has actually become an albatross around the country’s neck. A weak job market, they say, together with the U.S.’s smaller social safety net may actually be discouraging Americans from taking risks.


Suing for the right to marry

A U.S. citizen from Lafayette who was born in an Indonesian refugee camp had planned to marry his fiancee in front of 350 guests, with a catered reception to follow. But two weeks before the wedding, his application for a marriage license was rejected because of a 2014 law by Rep. Valarie Hodges of Denham Springs. On Tuesday Viet Anh Vo filed a lawsuit in a U.S. district court against state and parish officials for refusing his right to legally marry. Hodges’ law requires immigrants and refugees to provide specific documents from their country of origin, which simply don’t exist for many lawful immigrants who fled war-torn or dysfunctional countries. The AP’s Michael Kunzelman has the story:

I don’t understand the law. I just want them to fix it, to make things right,” Vo told The Associated Press during an interview in his Lafayette hometown. It’s not clear whether the lawsuit could have implications outside of the state. Neither the law’s critics nor officials with the National Conference of State Legislatures are aware of such legislation elsewhere, although NCSL spokesman Mick Bullock noted that the organization doesn’t closely track marriage license requirements. In Louisiana, however, the legislation has pitted the rights of immigrants against lawmakers who say they are trying to prevent fraudulent marriages.

Hodges told the news service that she will try to fix her law in the 2017 session.


Coming up: Conversations about poverty

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is conducting a series of community conversations where citizens are invited to share their thoughts about issues of child welfare and poverty. The tour has already made stops in Lafayette and Lake Charles, and the next stops are in southeast Louisiana as follows:

  • Oct. 20 – Covington. 2-4 p.m., First Baptist Church, 16333 LA-1085
  • Oct. 21 – Baton Rouge. 10 a.m. – Noon. First Baptist Church, 529 Convention Street
  • Oct. 27 – New Orleans. 2-4 p.m. Jane O’Brien Chatelain West Bank Regional Library, 2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey
  • Oct. 28 – Thibodaux, 2-4 p.m. First Baptist Church, 1244 Magnolia Heights St., Vacherie


Number of the Day

19 – Percentage by which mortality decreases due to an additional year of college education. (Source: The Brookings Institution)