Louisianans have a lot at stake in the Affordable Care Act. More than 500,000 low-income adults have gained coverage through the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, others have obtained subsidized coverage through the health insurance exchange and every citizen has the security of knowing they won’t lose their health coverage as a result of a pre-existing condition. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case brought by Attorney General Jeff Landry and others that seeks to overturn the landmark law. By all indications, it did not go well for the opponents of the law commonly known as Obamacare. The Washington Post has the story:
Two key members of the court — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh — said plainly during two hours of teleconferenced arguments that Congress’s decision in 2017 to zero-out the penalty for not buying health insurance did not indicate a desire to kill the entire law. With that, the latest effort to derail President Barack Obama’s landmark domestic achievement seemed likely to meet the fate of past endeavors. President Trump and Republicans have never summoned the votes to repeal the measure — even when in control of Congress and the White House. And the court has been unwilling to do the work for them.
LBP joined partner organizations around the state in opposing the reckless move to overturn the law.
Child care workers deserve pay and respect
Long before the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost and availability of high-quality child care was a problem for many young families. Now those problems have worsened, as child-care centers have seen their costs rise and the workers who care for Louisiana’s youngest learners are forced to bear additional risks to their health. Sarintha Buras Stricklin, director of the Jefferson Ready Start Network, elaborates in a letter to The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate:
For an already-struggling industry, the onset of the pandemic brought additional struggles for child care programs and early educators on which they rely. These educators lack the job supports that would allow them to remain safe and healthy while working as we head into flu season amid a global pandemic. In fact, nearly three-quarters of our early educators have no sick leave, and 20% are without health insurance altogether. We are asking educators across Louisiana, many of whom are women of color and are experiencing poverty, to bear the brunt of our economic reopening without providing them with the most basic supports needed to ensure that they stay well, both physically and mentally. While parents and advocates have increasingly called on the U.S. Congress to bail out child care, any legislation being considered focuses largely on financial solvency and lacks additional support for the educators that would allow them to simultaneously stay healthy and protect the children, all while providing high quality care.
Student voices stifled in Baton Rouge
Communities affected by government policy should have a voice in those decisions. That was the reasoning behind an effort by East Baton Rouge School Board member Tramelle Howard to create a nine-member youth council, comprised of students, to advise the board. As The Advocate’s Charles Lussier reports, the plan was backed by ample research but died at the hands of a dissenting school board member.
He (Howard) developed the proposal with help from Annalee Jackson, a teacher in New Orleans. Jackson spent this summer serving as an intern to Howard as part of an educational leadership program connected to Teach For America, which gave Jackson her start in teaching. Howard and Jackson put together a 16-page white paper summarizing research on such councils, as well as 31 pages of interviews and additional information.
Going green in Baton Rouge
In the same week that Shell announced it will shutter its oil refinery in Convent, a start-up company laid out plans for a $9.2 billion renewable diesel plant near Port Allen, across the river from Baton Rouge. The Advocate’s Tim Boone reports that Grön Fuels LLC (Swedish for “green”) could support 1,000 construction jobs and more than 1,000 permanent jobs by the time it’s fully built in 2031. As usual, the deal comes with plenty of incentives from state government.
To secure the project, the state offered the company an incentive package that is subject to a final investment decision, expected in 2021. The package includes a performance-based grant of up to $15 million, payable at up to $2.5 million per year for six years, for project development and infrastructure. The company also is expected to use the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs and the LED FastStart workforce training program.
Number of the Day
900,000 – Estimated number of Louisiana residents with pre-existing medical conditions, who are protected from losing their health insurance under the Affordable Care Ac. (Source: Louisiana Budget Project)