The week before Thanksgiving, Senate Republicans slipped a provision into their tax plan that would repeal the requirement that people buy health insurance (the “individual mandate”). Doing so would have serious negative implications for coverage and costs of health insurance in Louisiana. In a new blog, LBP senior policy analyst Jeanie Donovan highlights the latest research findings:
A study by the Commonwealth Institute, estimates that annual premiums for a 60-year old in Louisiana would rise by $1,165 in 2019 if the tax bill becomes law. Younger adults who buy coverage on the individual marketplace also would face substantial premium hikes. The CBO estimates the number of Americans without health insurance would increase by 13 million if the individual mandate were repealed. Analysts at the Center for American Progress estimate that 197,000 fewer Louisiana residents would have coverage by 2025 if the mandate is repealed. Some of the coverage losses would result from people simply choosing to forgo health insurance. But others would lose coverage because of an inability to pay.
The individual mandate has long been one of the least popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act. As consumers have come to better understand the purpose and function of the requirement, support for the provision has increased:
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 55 percent of the public supports the repeal of the individual mandate, down from 63 percent who supported repeal 2016. But when people are given more information about the mandate – including the potential consequences of repeal – support rises significantly. When given this new information, 6 in 10 respondents said they opposed repealing the individual mandate. In other words: When people understand the reasons for the mandate and the consequences of repeal, a majority of them support keeping it in place.
Restorative justice in Jefferson Parish
Jefferson Parish public schools made headlines in 2015 when a student spent six days in juvenile detention for throwing Skittles at another student on the bus. Now, the district is making headlines again, but for the opposite reason. Administrators have adopted the concept of “restorative justice,” and the results are something that all school and criminal justice leaders should take note of. The Atlantic’s Aviva Shen has the story:
“Rules are important. They keep us safe. They give us boundaries,” said Lauren Trout, a restorative-justice facilitator with the Jefferson Parish district attorney’s office. “But when rules are broken, what’s ultimately happened is somebody’s been hurt. Because we’re not in relationship to rules and laws—we’re in relationship to one another.” When applied to criminal justice, some studies have found that restorative approaches produce higher victim-satisfaction rates and lower recidivism rates than the traditional justice system does.
Louisiana’s ACA enrollment update
President Donald Trump’s administration has gone great lengths to undermine the Affordable Care Act by curtailing the 2018 open enrollment process. Cutting the enrollment period in half, reducing funding for outreach and enrollment assistance, and periodically shutting down the website for “maintenance” were attempts to hamper enrollment and weaken the marketplaces. Those actions may not have the intended effect, said Brian Burton, state director for Navigators for a Healthy Louisiana, at the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday. Sam Karlin with the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report was there:
Those who are enrolling this year are, by and large, getting better plans for less money—in many cases for free, Burton said. That’s the case for the 88% of people in the marketplace receiving federal assistance, as the tax credits rose with next year’s inflated premiums. However, for the 12% of Louisianans in the ACA exchange who don’t qualify for government assistance, healthcare is likely to be more expensive next year. That’s largely due to the Trump administration’s decision to cut cost-sharing payments to insurance companies, a move insurers say drove them to hike premiums by an average of 18.5% in 2018. The move cost Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, the state’s largest insurer, $10 million through the end of this year, as rates were already set in stone.
CHIP funds begin to dry up
Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired Oct. 1, and Congress still has not taken action to restore the program that provides health insurance to 9 million children. In the meantime, states have been using up leftover funds to keep their programs running as long as possible. Minnesota has already run out of federal funds and is now using state revenue to keep its program running. Yesterday, health officials in Colorado had to mail notices to families that they should begin looking for other options. Jack O’Brien with Health Leaders Media reports:
While there are no immediate effects on member eligibility, Colorado’s Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) released a statement Monday encouraging members to begin research on their options for private insurance. … Colorado noted that the state maintains sufficient funds to last through January 31, but the future of funding thereafter remains uncertain. “It’s frustrating that our CHP+ families are facing this uncertainty, especially during the holidays,” said Tom Massey, HCPF’s interim executive director, in the statement. “We are hopeful the federal government will act quickly to renew funding and alleviate further worry by Colorado families who rely on this important program.
The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission projects Louisiana will exhaust all unspent CHIP funding by March 2018.
Number of the Day
$200 million – Estimated amount the state will save in planned incentive payments due to the decision by Sasol Corp. to cancel a multibillion-dollar gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant near Lake Charles (Source: The Advocate)