Louisiana hospitals “deeply concerned” about AHCA

Louisiana hospitals “deeply concerned” about AHCA

The Louisiana Hospital Association and the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans released a joint statement Wednesday laying out concerns with the House Republican health care proposal.

The Louisiana Hospital Association and the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans released a joint statement Wednesday laying out concerns with the House Republican health care proposal. The bill, which would increase out-of-pocket costs for most people buying insurance in the individual market and would severely cut the Medicaid program, is already opposed by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Hospital Association.

While a Louisiana-specific impact analysis of the AHCA is not yet available, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that coverage losses will impact low-income Medicaid enrollees and the elderly (50-64) most severely. … In Louisiana, cuts of this magnitude would negatively impact services to the most vulnerable covered by Medicaid, including the elderly, disabled, children and pregnant women. As lawmakers work to re-examine the law, patients and the caregivers who serve them across Louisiana are depending on Congress to make continued coverage a priority. Under the Affordable Care Act, there have been significant investments in the healthcare of Louisiana residents that must be protected. During these tough economic times in our state, we must carefully consider any major healthcare changes that could negatively impact Louisiana’s patients, budget and economy.

In the same spirit, Nicole McGee, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, writes a letter to The Advocate about how the steep Medicaid cuts would imperil mental health coverage for Louisianans.

In a few short months, our state has come a long way in helping people get the care they need. But Congress could make or break our future progress. The recently introduced American Health Care Act would seriously undercut Medicaid Expansion by 2020, dashing the hopes of thousands of uninsured people statewide. And Congress is also planning to severely limit Medicaid financing, which would roll back services for thousands more.


Struggling families and the tax code

The portion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) going to families struggling to make ends meet- along with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)- has a major impact on child well-being. The only downside: The credit isn’t available to many experiencing the deepest poverty. Andrew Stettner has more on The Century Foundation’s (TCF) contributions to a report by the U.S. Child Poverty Action Group describing ways the tax code can support families.

Here’s how the Child Tax Credit works. Tax filers are eligible for up to $1,000 per child, and the credit is partially refundable, meaning that even workers who do not owe any taxes to the federal government can receive funds back from the government. TCF’s research has found that the child tax credit alone lifts 1.7 million children out of poverty. The Child Tax Credit works in tandem with the Earned Income Tax Credit (which provides a credit of as much as $5,548 to working families with two children). Together these credits for working families lifted 5.1 million children out of poverty in 2014.

The report also lifts up Louisiana’s School Readiness Tax Credits as a model policy.

The state of Louisiana, in making investments in small businesses, specifically child care centers (and their workers) to help grow local economies, has established a robust constellation of school readiness tax credits that support early childhood education; Nebraska has recently established similar legislation to focus on improving both quality and access as well.


Stalling on transportation reform

The need for new revenue to repair Louisiana’s crumbling roads and bridges is obvious – and confirmed by a blue-ribbon panel that said $700 million a year is needed to fix the problem. Less obvious is what Gov. John Bel Edwards proposes to do about it in the upcoming legislative session. The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports that the governor may defer to the Legislature instead of floating his own plan to raise the state’s gasoline tax.

Officials said Tuesday that, rather than rolling out his own proposal, Edwards plans to endorse road and bridge bills offered by lawmakers that would have a major impact on the $29 billion in backlogs. Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, made that point Monday in an appearance before the powerful Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. “What I shared with LABI is that the governor is wanting to do something on transportation but that it needs to be something bigger than the governor’s bill,” Wilson said Tuesday. “I don’t think you are going to see a bill that is going to be part of the governor’s package,” he added.


A way forward on health care

With the House Republican health care plan facing criticism from all quarters, commentators are bringing up a number of questions about the way forward. First, why can’t Republicans in Congress come up with a plan that covers more people with lower out-of-pocket costs? The answer- as the The New York Times’ David Leonhardt explains in an op/ed: the Affordable Care Act already used the best conservative ideas for health reform.

The reason is simple enough: Obamacare is the bipartisan version of health reform. It accomplishes a liberal end through conservative means and is much closer to the plan conservatives favored a few decades ago than the one liberals did. “It was the ultimate troll,” as Michael Anne Kyle of Harvard Business School put it, “for Obama to pass Republican health reform.”

In order to lower out-of-pocket costs, health reform would have to spend more- not less- on tax credits to help Americans afford plans in the individual market. And Medicaid would need to be expanded even further, not undermined. One ally of President Donald Trump is pushing a dramatic expansion of Medicaid as a way out of the party’s current health care morass. Vox’s Matthew Yglesias has more:

One could thus imagine “Medicaid for all” as a lower-cost alternative to “Medicare for all.” More affluent people would probably find Medicaid coverage to be excessively restrictive for their taste, in which case they would probably seek to obtain supplemental insurance- a practice that’s common in France and some other countries with national health care systems. But the private insurance system would exist as a layer on top of a basic blanket of security that guarantees health care fundamentals for everyone.


Number of the Day

$1,045,497,007 – Total state revenue lost through the federal income tax deduction for personal and corporate returns, the largest tax exemption on the books. (Source: Louisiana Department of Revenue)