U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy laid out his criteria last week for supporting the Senate’s “health care” bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, telling The Advocate: “I will study the bill to determine whether it fulfills President Trump’s campaign promises to lower premiums, maintain coverage and protect those with preexisting conditions without mandates.” The bill plainly fails that test. Average marketplace premiums are projected to rise 105 percent in Louisiana, 22 million people are projected to lose coverage, and there’s a loophole in the bill that exposes people with pre-existing medical conditions to higher costs. In a new blog, LBP senior policy analyst Jeanie Donovan explores some other myths, delving deeper into Medicaid expansion financing, out-of-pocket cost hikes and pre-existing conditions:
In fact, expansion – which provides coverage for more than 433,000 Louisianans – is actually saving our state money. The state’s cost share will increase from 5 percent to 10 percent by 2020, and the projected cost to Louisiana under current law will be just over $400 million by 2024. When fees from insurers, which will cover more than half the state’s costs, and cost savings are taken into account, Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion is sustainable beyond 2020. Alternatively, with the enhanced federal match eliminated under the Senate bill, the Medicaid expansion would cost the state a total of $1.3 billion annually by 2024, an amount that would make it virtually impossible for the state to sustain.
Governors look to stop Senate health bill
On Wednesday, Gov. John Kasich, a Republican from Ohio, and Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado, called for the Senate to set aside the current bill and work toward a bipartisan solution. The New York Time’s Alexander Burns explains how governors from both parties, including Louisiana’s Gov. John Bel Edwards, are working to stop the Senate’s wildly unpopular health care bill.
More than half a dozen Republican governors, including several from states with Republican senators, expressed either grave reservations or outright opposition to the bill, while Democrats have been unanimous in their disapproval. Though their preferences on health policy diverge in many ways, state leaders from both parties were alarmed at the potential for harm to their constituents, state budgets and insurance markets.
As the AP’s Melinda Deslatte reports, Edwards had the same message as his bipartisan counterparts:
“There’s not a lot of redeeming qualities about the bill. I would hope they throw it out and start over,” Louisiana’s governor said on a conference call with Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, two Democrats leading states that supported President Donald Trump. Edwards’ heaviest criticisms of the Senate bill center on its plan to significantly shrink spending on the traditional Medicaid program for low-income, disabled and elderly people and to phase out extra money given to states that expanded their Medicaid programs to cover the working poor.
Reports indicate that Senate leaders are looking to “bribe” reluctant senators with nominal funds to combat the opioid epidemic. Gov. John Kasich’s response: you’ve got to be kidding me. From Politico’s Sarah Karlin-Smith:
Addiction experts and others across the political spectrum say that boosting the current bill’s $2 billion for substance abuse services is like applying a Band-Aid to a gunshot wound. Throwing a one-time pile of cash at addiction won’t make it go away, say critics. It’s a complex, lifelong, medical problem that requires regular health care. “That’s like spitting in the ocean,” Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich said of spending money on opioids without giving people ongoing health care.
Time for Louisiana to support child care
Early care and education was not immune from budget cuts this past session, as legislators did nothing to raise revenue and instead argued about how deep overall cuts should be. The Advocate’s Will Sentell explores what the cuts will mean:
The targets include the state’s largest prekindergarten program, LA4, which serves more than 16,000 youngsters, and the Nonpublic School Early Childhood Development Program, which covers about 1,600 children. Both serve 4-year-olds and both are aimed at preparing students for kindergarten in a state where large numbers of children start school ill-prepared. State aid was trimmed by 2 percent for LA4, to $74 million, and 3 percent for NSECD, to $6.4 million, according to the institute. In addition, no money was added to a program that helps finance child care for low-income families. That effort, called the Child Care Assistance Program, suffered a 68 percent drop in enrollment before a slight comeback in recent months after state eligibility rules were loosened.
Jenna Conway, assistant superintendent for early childhood at the Louisiana Department of Education, writes in The Advocate:
Research shows that children who participate in quality early childhood programs tend to do better in school and experience greater life success. Moreover, parents who have access to stable, quality child care are more likely to be successful at work or in school. In fact, one study showed that working mothers who receive child care assistance are 40 percent more likely to still be employed after two years than those who do not receive any help paying for child care. Child care is an investment in both the workforce of today and the citizenry of tomorrow.
People with disabilities appeal to Cassidy
Advocates for people with disabilities gathered to voice their concerns about the draconian cuts included in the Senate’s “health care” bill. Members of the crowd on Tuesday urged Cassidy to “first, do no harm.” The Advocate’s Rebekah Allen has the story.
On Wednesday morning in an interview with CNN, Cassidy said he still hadn’t made up his mind on the bill, but struck a critical tone. He said the bill has to ensure that private insurance is affordable to those who may be pushed off of Medicaid. Cassidy also said he agreed with fellow moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, when she said the bill needs more than just “tinkering” to make it workable. … But after the demonstration at his Baton Rouge office, Cassidy’s office issued a statement that offered no additional clarity about his position.
Number of the Day
105 – Percent increase in average monthly after-tax-credit premiums under Senate health bill (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)