The cost of child care rose 6% in July from the same time last year, or nearly twice as fast as the overall inflation rate of 3.2%. The Wall Street Journal’s Christian Robles attributes the rise to increased demand from parents who are returning to the office after the pandemic, and a continued shortage of child care workers that is helping to drive up wages in the notoriously low-paid profession.
“We don’t have many other options, so we just have to take the hit,” Danielle Ganje, a mother of three living in Blaine, Minn., said of recent price hikes. Ganje, a communications director for a nonprofit organization, said she is paying about $2,500 a month for child care this summer. That is at least 10% more than last summer and more than her monthly mortgage payment, the 36-year-old said. Her total child-care bill will decline in a few weeks when her 8-year-old and 6-year-old return to public school. But they will still require before- and after-school care, and those prices also are going up, she said.
Putting the brakes on Blue Cross
Next week’s hearings on the proposed sale of the nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana to Elevance Health have been postponed until October. Blue Cross cited the need to address concerns from an independent consultant’s report as the reason for the delay. The request came a day after several key legislators raised questions about how the deal could affect health care costs, and the structure of a new foundation that will take the bulk of the sale’s proceeds. The Advocate’s Stephanie Riegel has the latest:
Attorney General Jeff Landry, the current frontrunner in the race for governor, formally asked Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon Wednesday to delay the regulatory hearing, and also announced he is investigating it for possible antitrust violations. Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City, followed up Thursday in a separate letter to [Insurance Commissioner Jim] Donelon, asking the commission to give Blue Cross policyholders and the public more time to evaluate the deal. [Insurance Department lawyer David] Caldwell said he didn’t believe the decision was made in response to political pressure, though he acknowledged that “a little more time, to the extent it makes people more comfortable with this deal, is fine.”
Kids account for one-third of Louisianans kicked off Medicaid
Children made up 35% of the 50,600 people that were kicked off Louisiana’s Medicaid program in July as part of a massive disenrollment process sparked by the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the Louisiana Department of Health was able to determine that nearly three-fourths of the people that lost Medicaid did so for procedural reasons, it’s still unclear how many children fell through the cracks because of paperwork issues. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Julie O’Donoghue reports:
The … Louisiana Budget Project is also monitoring disenrollment, though so far the organization has been impressed with the state’s outreach to Medicaid recipients. Louisiana sent every Medicaid recipient a letter outlining the Medicaid renewal process earlier this year. It has also run advertisements and posted signs in health care facilities, government offices and pharmacies. “That it takes so much energy to seek out who has the right to have affordable health care is kind of bizarre,” said Jan Moller, head of the Louisiana Budget Project. “The fact that this is such a production speaks to the absurdity of the health care system we have.”
The disparate toll of major hurricanes
While the wind, rain and storm surge generated by hurricanes do not discriminate, the death toll from these major disasters is not spread out evenly. A new report from Science Advances examined 179 storms from the past 32 years and found that of the 18,000 people who died in the month after storms made landfall, 90% came from vulnerable communities. NPR’s Alejandra Borunda reports on why hurricanes are deadlier to these areas.
The massive disparity found in the study is not a surprise. Indiana University biostatistician Raul Cruz, who was not involved in the research, was one of the people who tried to come up with a more realistic estimate of deaths and their causes after Hurricane Maria. His team found substantial increases in deaths from heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease in the months following the storm. Such conditions are manageable under normal conditions, he says. But they become dangerous or even deadly if not addressed, a hard or impossible task after a destructive storm. For people from historically disadvantaged and poor communities, “when one of these storms comes and knocks you down, that can be what keeps you from the preventative treatment you need,” Cruz says.
Number of the Day
49 – Louisiana’s national rank for tax on gasoline. The Pelican State hasn’t raised its gasoline tax in 33 years, and the current 20-cents-per-gallon levy doesn’t raise nearly enough revenue to tackle the state’s $15 billion backlog of transportation needs. (Source: Tax Foundation)