Louisiana uninsured rate plummets

Louisiana uninsured rate plummets

The share of Louisianans without health insurance dropped from 21.7 percent in 2013 to 12.5 percent in 2016.

The share of Louisianans without health insurance dropped from 21.7 percent in 2013 to 12.5 percent in 2016. What this means: better health outcomes for Louisianans, enhanced financial security, and lower societal costs of uncompensated care. Since the survey took place throughout 2016, the drop is likely even steeper since the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion only kicked in halfway through the year. Without the Affordable Care Act in place, hundreds of thousands of Louisianans would miss out on life saving services and the state would be without billions of federal dollars over the next ten years. The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp reports on the success of Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid expansion is working, and in the process, Louisiana is saving more than $184 million,” (Gov. John Bel) Edwards said. “This is great news for the more than 394,000 working poor people of Louisiana who’ve been denied health coverage and are now getting the care they need. We’re saving lives in Louisiana and these numbers are proof of that.” Louisiana still had the 11th highest rate of uninsured residents last year, the Gallup survey found. None of the 10 states with higher uninsured rates in 2016 has expanded Medicaid. Louisiana’s 9.2 percent(age point) fall was bested only by Montana, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, West Virginia, Arkansas and Kentucky – all states that expanded their Medicaid programs through the federal Affordable Care Act before Louisiana did in July. “This is a real generational shift for Louisiana,” State Health Secretary Rebekah Gee said. “It’s very good news for our state … It’s a great direction to be heading in.”


Debate continues over how to plug budget hole

In the run-up to next week’s special legislative session, debate continues to swirl over how best to plug the midyear budget shortfall. Leaders of the Republican caucus contend that Gov. John Bel Edwards’ plan leans too heavily on so-called one-time money, instead of making deeper cuts to state services. But Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says that structural fixes to the budget are best accomplished during the regular session, while also reminding legislators that they were the ones who approved the funding levels in the current year budget. The Advocate’s Tyler Bridges reports:

Jay Dardenne, a prominent Republican who serves as Edwards’ top budget officer, said in an interview that administration officials have had no alternative to relying on short-term solutions now because the lateness in the fiscal year gives them little room to maneuver without cutting spending for public colleges and universities – which have suffered 16 separate cuts over the past nine years – K-12 schools and programs that help families with developmentally disabled children get through the day. “The time to curtail spending is when the budget is approved,” Dardenne said, noting that the Edwards administration is attempting to protect programs that lawmakers sought when they approved the current budget last year.

At the end of the day, House Republicans will have to come up with their own specific set of cuts to impose if they don’t want to go along with the governor’s plan.


Have ACA repeal efforts stalled?

Reports from Capitol Hill are dribbling out that repeal of the Affordable Care Act has stalled. President Donald Trump now says efforts to unwind the health law will take over a year. And veteran GOP strategist Frank Luntz is now advising congressional leaders to call their efforts “repair” instead of “repeal.” It remains to be seen whether a policy course correction will follow the rhetorical one. Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank documents the new tune Republicans are singing these days, though he cautions them to stop taking actions that will destabilize the health care market.

Take Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who in 2011 called Obamacare “the single greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime. It will destroy our health-care system…It must be repealed.” Now Johnson has shed the hysteria. “Let’s start working with Democrats,” he said on CNBC. “Let’s transition to a system that will actually work, that, you know, Democrats are talking about…It’s way more complex than simply repeal and replace.” Then there’s Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). In 2014, he proclaimed that Obamacare’s “damage cannot now be undone by delaying it or tinkering with it — it must be repealed and replaced with the patient-centered plan proposed by House Republicans.” These days he’s not so bold. “We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created,” McClintock said in the recorded session with Republicans. “That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”

If repeal does move forward though, it’s not just health coverage that would be lost: the Economic Policy Institute estimates that 28,063 Louisiana jobs would vanish. EPI’s Josh Bivins provides this analysis:

The combination of tax cuts and spending cuts embedded in ACA repeal would reduce national job growth by almost 1.2 million in 2019, all else equal. That is because the spending cuts would hurt job growth more than the tax cuts would help it. The benefit cuts would come mostly out of the pockets of cash-constrained households that will be likely to significantly cut back their spending in response to lower disposable income, while the tax cuts would disproportionately go to high-income households who tend to save a significant portion of increases in disposable income. The jobs that would be lost are not just health care jobs. Previous high-quality studies of the jobs gained through Medicaid expansions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) indicate that more than three-fourths of the jobs gained were not in the health care sector.


AARP constituent trainings in your area

The Louisiana AARP will be holding advocacy trainings to mobilize on behalf of people in need of long-term home- and community-based care services. Below is more information from the AARP.

“You have probably read in our most recent newsletter the serious concerns we have regarding the future of long-term care and the threats to reduce home care services for those wanting to live at home, instead of being placed into a nursing home. We really need your help for the upcoming year. As we prepare for the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session, it’s important that volunteers get an update on our legislative priorities as well as a refresher on how to conduct successful meetings with policymakers.”

RSVP to attend AARP volunteer trainings in your area:

Feb 14 – New Orleans – https://aarp.cvent.com/d/xvqgxv/1Q  

Feb 15 – Lafayette https://aarp.cvent.com/d/rvqgxt/1Q

Feb 16 – Baton Rouge – https://aarp.cvent.com/BRAdvocacyTrainingFeb17


Number of the Day

42 – percentage drop in number of Louisianans who lack health insurance from 2013 to 2016, largely due to Medicaid expansion. (Source: Gallup Healthways Well-being Index)