How to reduce the cost of health coverage

How to reduce the cost of health coverage

Even with subsidies from the Affordable Care Act, health care costs remain a significant expense for moderate-income families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and buy their coverage in the marketplace. And for families that earn too much to qualify for subsidies, the cost of coverage can be prohibitive. State policymakers, however, can lower health insurance costs and increase coverage rates by establishing a state-run reinsurance program and providing state subsidies for low- and moderate-income households. A new report from LBP policy director Stacey Roussel explains how Louisianans could benefit:

Access to affordable health insurance is an important factor in building family economic security. While Medicaid expansion has successfully reduced the uninsured rate for the lowest income Louisianans, far too many families still struggle to pay for health care. As lawmakers head into the first legislative session of this new decade, they should prioritize ensuring all Louisianans have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.          


ACA repeal would be costly
Nearly 500,000 Louisianans would lose health insurance coverage if state Attorney General Jeff Landry is successful in his attempt to overturn the federal Affordable Care Act. That’s according to a new report adopted Wednesday by a state task force, which also estimates that the state would lose $3.6 billion in federal health care funding. Landry countered with his own report, which predicted Congress would replace the funding Louisiana now gets if the ACA is repealed. The Advocate’s Sam Karlin has more: 

The (task force) document paints a stark picture, warning 494,000 Louisianans would lose health coverage if the ACA was scrapped. Without billions of dollars in federal funds, Louisiana’s uninsured rate would return to the high teens experienced before the ACA, the report said. The fate of the ACA, a sprawling health law that provides protections for people with preexisting conditions, currently sits before a district court but could ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Fagan gets it wrong
Alaska talk-show host Dan Fagan argues in his Advocate column that Louisiana’s reforms to the Industrial Tax Exemption Program are somehow to blame for the recent lull in industrial construction activity. The state has lost 14,000 construction jobs over the past 18 months, and Fagan thinks he knows the reason: 

The anti-development and left-leaning group Together Louisiana played a big role in getting out the vote for Edwards during his first run for governor. The nonprofit lobbied Edwards hard for the changes to ITEP when he first took office. Mission accomplished. 14,000 construction jobs that were, are no more.

But LSU economist Loren Scott, in his 2020-21 economic forecast for the region’s economy, offers a very different explanation, and predicts the state will add nearly 54,000 jobs over the next two years. 

In 2019, the state has been in a lull between finishing some projects and starting up new ones. Many of the latter should begin construction over 2020-21, giving a real boost to the Lake Charles, New Orleans and Baton Rouge economies.

And as The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate reported last month, there also is the growing phenomenon of large corporations building most of their plants overseas, then shipping them up the Mississippi River for final assembly in Louisiana. 


Louisiana Supreme Court sides with Walmart
The Louisiana Supreme Court sided with Walmart on Wednesday in a dispute over whether the company is required to pay local sales taxes for online purchases it handles for small retailers. The 4-3 ruling rejected an argument from Jefferson Parish that dodged its obligation to collect taxes on sales by third-party sellers in its online marketplace. Justice John L. Weimer said legislation is needed to address this issue in the future. The Advocate’s Mark Ballard explains the origins of the case, which could result in a revenue loss for sales tax-dependent local governments: 

From 2009 through 2015, Wal-Mart paid its taxes for sales in Jefferson Parish both online and in their stores. But the company did not report or remit the sales taxes for sales made by the third-party retailers. Arguing that Wal-Mart’s online store amounted to a “dealer” under Louisiana law, then-Sheriff Newell Normand, who is the ex-officio tax collector for Jefferson Parish, in February 2017 demanded $1.89 million along with interest and penalties for the uncollected taxes on third-party sales. Judge Stephen D. Enright Jr., of the 24th Judicial District Court, and the Louisiana 5th Court of Appeal agreed, for the most part, with Jefferson Parish’s reasoning. The Louisiana Supreme Court did not.


Number of the Day
3.6 billion – The amount of federal funds Louisiana would lose if Attorney General Jeff Landry’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act succeeds. (Source: Protecting Health Coverage in Louisiana Task Force)