A “ticking time bomb” on health care

A “ticking time bomb” on health care

An estimated 3.7 million Americans who buy health insurance through the marketplace could see their monthly premiums rise by hundreds of dollars next year if Congress fails to agree on a scaled-back version of the Build Back Better plan. That’s because temporary federal subsidies, which were included in last year’s massive pandemic relief package, will expire at the end of 2022. The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty reports that the premium hikes would mainly hit early retirees, gig workers, other self-employed people and workers at small businesses that don’t offer employer-sponsored health coverage. 

How much benefit have people been receiving from those subsidies? Again, some figures from Kaiser: They are enough to cover more than half the annual $11,000 premiums for a relatively low-deductible “silver” plan for a 60-year-old making just over $51,000, or about four times the poverty level. Without the assistance, the monthly premium paid this year by a couple over the age of 50 earning $75,000 would go up by close to $700, bringing their plan’s total cost to more than $1,200 a month. So losing those subsidies would be a big hit for people who make a living wage but are far from wealthy. And that is not all they are likely to face when the annual signup for the Obamacare exchanges rolls around.

A “Community Lighthouse” in New Orleans
Louisianans can expect an active hurricane season in 2022, starting next week, and that means many South Louisiana communities can expect to spend days or weeks without electric power at some point. The advocacy group Together New Orleans, led by religious congregations around the region, is hoping to alleviate some of the suffering by investing in local “resiliency hubs,” powered by solar energy and battery storage, where residents can charge devices and cool off. The Times-Picayune’s Matt Sledge reports that the idea was born in the days after Hurricane Ida and has taken off with grant funding from the Greater New Orleans Foundation and others. 

Supporters say the power hubs will have a host of benefits after a storm. The electricity will turn churches into cooling centers, allow people to charge their phones and keep the power flowing for food preparation. … In New Orleans, the goal is for the entire population to live within a 15-minute walk of one of the lighthouses. The community health nonprofit Crescent Care has received a $500,000 grant from Direct Relief to turn one of its buildings into this type of community hub.

Segregationist school plan revived 
Fifteen years ago, Sen. Bodi White played an integral role in carving the heavily-white Central school district in suburban Baton Rouge out of the majority-Black school district in East Baton Rouge Parish. Earlier this month and amid claims of racism, White (temporarily) shelved legislation that would redraw the district lines again to exclude a new subdivision that is feeding Black students into the district. But a week removed from the anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, a House panel advanced legislation that would deny Black students entry into a high-performing system. The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports

“It seems that the only reason this bill is being pushed is because Sen. White thinks that this subdivision is going to be majority Black,” Samuels said. “That is why we are here. And so yes it is actually what systemic racism looks like.” … Edgar Cage, a leader of Together Louisiana, noted that no member of the community showed up to urge approval for the bill. “What other choice do you have but to involuntarily defer this,” he said, meaning a vote to kill the legislation.

Louisiana tribes can’t get state recognition 
Multiple Louisiana Native American tribes faced familiar roadblocks on Tuesday in their failed attempt to gain state recognition. Recognition from the state comes with many benefits, including scholarships, health care assistance and lines of communications with local and state governments. While members of the Senate Judiciary B Committee pushed tribe members toward seeking federal recognition, instead, tribal representatives countered that their multi-decade efforts to gain federal recognition have faced bureaucratic setbacks , roadblocks and dead ends. BR Proud’s Shannon Heckt reports

“Native Americans are the only race in the United States that have to have permission to be Native American. You put down Black as your race, no one questions you. You put down Native American. Everyone questions you,” said Serena Simonsen of the Apalachee Indians Talimali Band. … “All of us have this lingering thing that we’ve had forever, that anybody that seeks recognition and in this fashion has another motive in mind,” said Sen. Louie Bernard, R-Natchitoches. “And we all know what that is. But I guess I’m just naive enough to believe that some of these tribes really are not interested in that. They are interested solely in having the pride of having been recognized by their state as who they say they are.”

Number of the Day
19 – Children who were killed Tuesday for the act of showing up to school at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in the only country where this type of thing happens regularly (Source: San Antonio Express-News)