The insurance quagmire

The insurance quagmire

Louisiana’s next insurance commissioner – elected without opposition when his only opponent dropped out – wants insurance companies to be able to raise rates more often and allow them to drop longtime customers. Tim Temple also wants to reduce the state’s oversight of an industry that is critical to helping homeowners recover from hurricanes and natural disasters, but is having trouble adjusting to a rapidly changing climate that has led to more frequent storms. Sam Karlin reports for The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate

Temple said he is seeking input from insurance companies, agents, consumers and attorneys and hopes to come to a broad agreement on a series of bills to pass in the session, with the overarching goal of helping attract more insurers to the state’s troubled property insurance market. He said he has pitched the major gubernatorial candidates on the idea for a special session and has received positive feedback; the governor or Legislature would need to call the session.

Temple wants his industry-friendly proposals to be taken up during a special session of the Legislature in January, but acknowledges that his plans are unlikely to solve the problem.

Even if the Legislature passes a series of bills, Louisiana could still face rising premiums and wary insurers, given increased disaster risk linked to climate change. Temple acknowledged that a regional or national insurance product may be needed to address the state’s heightened disaster risk and other systemic problems. 


Child care costs will keep rising 
The cost of child care is rising nearly twice as fast as the overall inflation rate, thanks to increased demand from parents and a shortage of people willing to perform these important, difficult but low-paid jobs. Making matters worse: The federal pandemic aid that helped support child-care services across the country has mostly expired. This will put more than 3 million children, including nearly 77,000 Louisiana children, at risk of losing access to key programs that are crucial for brain development. USA Today’s Bailey Schulz reports on the wide-ranging consequences of America’s broken child care system. 

The loss of child care programs is expected to have ripple effects across the economy as more parents cut their working hours or quit their jobs entirely to care for their children. The loss in tax and business revenue is expected to cost states $10.6 billion in economic activity a year, according to The Century Foundation. “We’ve got a broken child care system in which parents can’t afford to pay, teachers can’t afford to stay and businesses in our economy pay the price,” said Susan Gale Perry, CEO of the advocacy organization Child Care Aware.  


Judges will redraw Alabama congressional maps
Alabama’s state legislature recently refused to redraw the state’s congressional boundaries to reflect the state’s racial makeup, even after being ordered to do so by a federal court. So now the courts will do the job themselves. The defiance by lawmakers in the Yellowhammer state could offer a preview into what could happen if Louisiana lawmakers refuse to follow court orders to redraw their own racist maps. The AP’s Kim Chandler reports

“We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature — faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district — responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district,” the judges wrote in the ruling rejecting the new map. The group of Black voters who filed one of the two lawsuits that led to the order likened Alabama’s defiance in the case to that of segregationist Gov. George Wallace, who unsuccessfully tried to defy court orders to desegregate.


Huge threat to U.S budget has receded
The ongoing growth of the Medicare program has long been seen as a huge threat to the federal budget, and America’s ballooning deficit, with some calling the program “bankrupt.” But spending per Medicare beneficiary has leveled off over the last decade, and no one is sure why. The New York Times’ Upshot blog examines the massive gap between historical trends and actual Medicare spending and what could be driving this change. 

If Medicare spending had grown the way it had for much of its history, federal spending would have been $3.9 trillion higher since 2011, and deficits would have been more than a quarter larger, according to an Upshot analysis. The difference is more than could be saved by raising the eligibility age for Social Security or converting Medicaid into a block grant, controversial proposals raised by legislators concerned about the federal debt. 


Number of the Day
10.5% – Percentage point gap of labor force participation rate between men and women. Traditionally, a larger share of men have worked than women, but the August 2023 gap is the smallest on record. (Source: Axios)