The percentage of Louisianans without health insurance coverage increased by nearly a full percentage point in 2019 over the previous year, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Even with the increase, Louisiana’s uninsured rate remains below the national average, and is very low by historical standards, due largely to Louisiana’s expansion of Medicaid. LBP’s Policy Director Stacey Roussel has more:
In addition to harmful policies, the Covid-19 pandemic has surely increased the number of uninsured as an unprecedented number of workers – disproportionately Black and Brown – have lost their jobs and accompanying employer-sponsored health insurance, which often covers both the worker and their families. The uninsured rates reported here are based on survey results from 2019 and do not capture the radically different landscape of 2020.
Legalization doesn’t end racial disparities in pot arrests
In 2015 the District of Columbia became one of the first municipalities to legalize marajiuna. The move was seen as a victory in eradicating racial disparities in our criminal justice system. However, new data showcases that even with legalization, Black and Brown people are far more likely to be arrested on marijuana-related offenses. The Washington Post’s Paul Schwartzman and John Harden have more on the racial disparities in pot arrests:
Although marijuana arrests have declined by more than half, African Americans still account for just under 90 percent of those arrested on all pot-related charges, according to a Washington Post analysis, even as they make up 45 percent of the city’s population. And while studies show that marijuana use is equally prevalent among Blacks and Whites, 84 percent of more than 900 people arrested for public consumption in the nation’s capital were African American in the four years after legalization.
The link between industrial pollution and Covid deaths
It’s well known that Covid-19 has hit Black and Brown populations harder than whites – in Louisiana and across the country. New research suggests the problem may be even worse in areas with poor air quality caused by industrial pollution. Sara Sneath of Nola.com | The Baton Rouge Advocate and Lylla Younes ProPublica investigate:
COVID-19 can be made more serious — and, in some cases, more deadly — by a specific type of industrial emission called hazardous air pollutants, or HAPs, according to new peer-reviewed research by ProPublica and researchers at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The study, published Friday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found this association in both rural counties in Louisiana and highly populated communities in New York.
Be counted in the Census
The 2020 census count is fast approaching and Louisiana is lagging other states in self-reporting respondents. The census count affects the amount of federal money Louisiana receives for a host of programs – from road construction to health care to school meals – and a census undercount makes it likely that our state will receive less than our share of those resources. A Nola.com | Baton Rouge Advocate’s editorial explains why, despite the difficulties that Covid-19 and Hurricane Laura pose to the state’s efforts to count every person, Louisiana needs everyone to complete the census:
Our state is among the least effective when it comes to self-response rates across the nation. We’re sitting at No. 46, meaning there are 45 states doing better than ours when it comes to completed household counts. If we want to do better, we can decide not to take a defeatist attitude, making sure that each of us, our families, friends, associates, colleagues, faith house members, neighbors and children are counted.
Number of the Day
8.9% – The proportion of Louisianans without health insurance in 2019. This is a 10% increase in Louisiana’s uninsured rate, from the historic low of 8% in 2018. (Source: Louisiana Budget Project)