Louisiana has kicked more than 160,000 people out of its Medicaid program as part of a massive disenrollment process sparked by the end of pandemic-era coverage protections. One-third of those who lost health coverage were children. The vast majority of Louisianans were dropped for procedural reasons, not because they were ineligible. And while most people have been able to re-enroll in the program, a temporary coverage loss can still lead to negative health outcomes, especially for kids. The Times-Picayune |Baton Rouge Advocate’s Emily Woodruff reports:
“Some people are able to reapply and get back on and it’s not an issue,” said Courtney Foster, Medicaid policy advocate for the Louisiana Budget Project. “But we know when there is a discontinuity in coverage, that can have an impact on if people go to the doctor because of the confusion around if they may have to pay.” In children, that could lead to educational and developmental delays that are harder and more expensive to address the longer they are allowed to fester, advocates said. Seven in ten children in Louisiana were covered by Medicaid by early this year. Only New Mexico has a higher rate of children who rely on Medicaid for health care.
Lawsuit targets clemency hearing cancellations
Louisiana violated the civil rights of dozens of death-row inmates when it canceled their clemency hearings earlier this month, according to a lawsuit filed in Baton Rouge court on Tuesday. The state pardon board, at the direction of Gov. John Bel Edwards, had scheduled hearings for 20 of the 55 death row inmates seeking commutation to life sentences. But a Baton-Rouge judge dismissed a lawsuit to grant hearings after the board and prosecutors reached a deal to only hear a maximum of five requests, which were ultimately rejected. The Times-Picayune |Baton Rouge Advocate’s James Finn reports:
The 153-page complaint filed Tuesday advances a number of legal arguments against the settlement, saying it violated the prisoners’ right to due process by intervening in Edwards’ directive. It says the board violated open meetings rules by agreeing to the settlement behind closed doors and that the board’s legal representation was not hired properly. The complaint also reiterates arguments by the pardon board attorney [Attorney General Jeff] Landry had fired claiming that Landry had a conflict of interest stemming from his decision to sue a state agency.
Driving fast in the slow lane
The Louisiana petrochemical industry’s favorite economist, Loren Scott, is bullish about the state’s near-term economic prospects. His most recent forecast predicts the state will gain more than 80,000 jobs over the next two years, much of it due to new investments in manufacturing projects that are concentrated in South Louisiana. But a Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate editorial questions the long-term economic benefits of petrochemical manufacturing:
At the same time, Louisiana’s petrochemical industry, like most industrial employers, simply does not need the number of workers to operate facilities that it did in earlier decades. Louisiana’s future employment base might be said to be growing in categories where jobs aren’t as plentiful as in other arenas, like high-tech industries. That’s a long-term issue that should spur the state to do more to build a better-educated population base, because the future — while positive, as Scott said — isn’t as clear as the next two years appear to be.
Baby bonds create a more prosperous future
Baby bonds – publicly guaranteed trust funds created at a child’s birth – can help address endemic poverty, and are particularly effective at reducing racial wealth gaps. Three baby bond programs currently exist in the United States — California, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., while eight other states have introduced similar legislation. The New School’s David Radcliffe explains efforts in the Constitution State to provide a more prosperous future to children in low-income families.
Given the growing role of state treasurer offices in building an economy that works for everyone, Baby Bonds are a natural extension of their long-standing interests in advancing policies, programs, and investments to foster economic well-being. And, significantly, since Connecticut’s progress with Baby Bonds, a number of other states—notably led by their state treasurers—have also introduced or are considering Baby Bond legislation.
Note: Louisiana lawmakers advanced a resolution in 2021 requesting a study on baby bonds.
Number of the Day
400,000 – Number of U.S. households that avoided foreclosure since 2020 because of federal pandemic relief. (Source: U.S. Department of Treasury via Route Fifty)