While President Donald Trump’s administration pursues one administrative action that would make it harder for some people to access Medicaid along with another that would threaten essential health benefits, people around the country are voicing support for the Affordable Care Act. Voters in Maine decided Tuesday to expand Medicaid, joining Louisiana and 30 other states, while enrollment through the individual market (open now through Dec. 15) is stronger than expected. Meanwhile, Nola.com/The Times-Picayune’s editorial board calls for renewed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program – without provisions that would threaten coverage for others.
Reducing the number of uninsured Louisiana residents is vitally important, both to individuals and to the state’s overall well-being. Providing health coverage for children is particularly important. Youngsters need regular checkups and immunizations. They should get prompt treatment when they are sick so they don’t miss too much school. And if they develop healthy habits when they are young, they will become healthier adults. LaCHIP gives thousands of Louisiana families peace of mind about how to pay for their children’s health care.
New early care & education system launches
A new grading system for early care and education centers throughout the state went live this week. The Department of Education’s Louisiana School and Center Finder includes the location and grade for all pre-K centers and K-12 schools throughout the state. The Advocate’s Charles Lussier has more:
The new site also links to a web video on the letter grade system that the state uses to judge schools as well as a video explaining the numerical grades the state has started giving some child care centers. Centers that participate in the federally funded Child Care Assistance Program earn grades of up to 7 points. Dunn said the new site’s inclusion of so much information on early childhood centers stands out. “We’ve been able to confirm by talking with other states that Louisiana is the first state to offer an online tool of this sort to give information from birth all the way through grade 12,” she said.
Investment in reentry services needed
Now that Louisiana is beginning to implement a sweeping package of criminal justice reform measures, some advocates and service-providers are focused on how to connect returning citizens to jobs and opportunities. Michael Williamson, president and CEO of United Way of Southeast Louisiana, describes the need in a guest column for Nola.com/The Times-Picayune. Williamson notes that a number of foundations and nonprofits are stepping up to support this work, but calls on more stakeholders to join.
Data suggest as many as 75 percent of former prisoners are still jobless up to a year after release, even those actively searching. Which leaves one to wonder how they can afford housing, child care, health care, food and transportation. This fact alone underscores the importance of the Prisoner Re-entry Initiative’s focus on workforce development and its goal to create “transitional and permanent jobs by working with Louisiana’s business community.”
Rich donors push tax bill
Pushback to the House tax plan is emerging as it becomes clear that the benefits accrue primarily to the richest, some middle class families would face a tax increase, deficits would increase dramatically and cuts to important programs would likely follow. The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis report on the state of play.
Complicating the effort, a series of independent studies have emerged in recent days indicating that millions of middle-class families would be hit with tax increases under the House proposal, particularly when certain benefits are phased out after several years.
Still, it appears the House is moving full-speed ahead. Why? Rep. Chris Collins of New York lays out the case that sounds a lot like a quid pro quo: “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.'” Vox’s Dylan Scott has that story:
So House Republicans aren’t going to sweat the details. Their donors put them in office to cut their taxes.
Tighter rules for payday lenders
Payday and car title lending costs Louisiana families $241,461,615 per year in fees. The loans drive borrowers into financial distress by trapping them in long-term debt at triple-digit interest rates. Borrowers routinely pay more in fees than the amount they borrow for what is marketed as a quick fix for a cash shortage. Many end up with unpaid bills, overdraft fees, closed bank accounts and even bankruptcy. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board writes in favor of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new rule for payday lenders and describes how the debt trap works:
When debt is rolled over, the payday lender often allows the borrower to pay the fees due at that time and then extends the due date of the loan, adding on more fees. The $52.50 fee would be charged again, meaning the consumer will be charged $105 for borrowing $350 for four weeks. Sometimes the lender tacks on late charges.
Number of the Day
3 million – Number of low-income immigrant children who would be denied the Child Tax Credit under the tax bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)