The White House recently identified 16 states, including Louisiana, that have underfunded Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by a collective $13 billion over the past three decades. The Louisiana Legislature is alleged to have underfunded Southern University to the tune of $1.1 billion. The Grio’s Michael Harriot calls this “theft” and explains the inequities it helped perpetuate. 

This theft did not just handicap Black institutions; it benefitted every white family. Even the white families that did not attend these colleges paid lower taxes. They had jobs, lived in neighborhoods and sent their children to school where their neighbors, bosses and children reaped the harvests of education funded by Black taxpayers. They cheered for the football teams and enjoyed the economic benefits of an educated populace. More importantly, they had opportunities that Black taxpayers could not avail themselves of.

Program provides skills for life after prison
A state program is helping reduce recidivism by teaching recently released inmates life-changing skills and tools. The program is run by Geo Reentry Services, a Florida-based criminal justice reform company that partners with the Louisiana Division of Probation and Parole. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Matt Bruce reports on recent graduates of the program and the ways it helped them transition to life after prison. 

One of the first obstacles organizers try to resolve is eliminating barriers like housing, clothes and food, education, and employment before digging into the underlying issues participants have. “Once we take care of those needs, then they come into orientation,” [manager of the reentry program in Baton Rouge Torrey] Williams said. “It’s pretty hard to come here and focus on work, focus on schooling when you don’t know where you’re going to live tonight. So we pride ourselves on being able to take care of those needs.”

Distrust perpetuates health disparities
The advances in modern medicine over the past century have saved countless lives. But the mistreatment of Black Americans, including forced sterilizations and experiments where they were unknowingly injected with syphilis, have eroded faith in the nation’s health care systems. Verite News’ Lottie L. Joiner explains how this mistrust has led many Black Americans to forgo important care and the health disparities that have resulted. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, in 2019 Black Americans were 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than their white counterparts. … In Louisiana, the state’s Center for Health Equity has noted that the state often ranks “49th or 50th in state health outcomes” and that there’s a nearly 20-year difference in life expectancy based on where you live, your gender and and your race.  In New Orleans, according to the Tulane University School of Medicine, there is a 25.5 year difference in life expectancy depending on where you live in the city.

Crackdown on Medicare Advantage plans
The White House is proposing a new rule targeting Medicare Advantage, a highly lucrative market for insurers that now enroll nearly half of all Medicare beneficiaries. The Biden administration has already targeted the deceptive and misleading marketing practices used by insurance brokers and agents to sell the private health plans. The new proposal aims to ensure older Americans actually receive the care the plans advertise. The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein reports

Under a draft rule issued Monday by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare Advantage plans would be required to work harder to encourage customers to make use of extra benefits available to them, rather than the companies merely invoking them as a selling point. The proposal also would help Americans with Medicare drug benefits gain access to biosimilars, less expensive versions of biologic drugs made from living cells or other organisms. Older Americans choosing Medicare coverage “should not be subject to practices playing fast and loose with marketing rules,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said during a Monday press briefing to outline the proposal.

Number of the Day
25.5 – Difference in life expectancy (in years) between different ZIP codes in New Orleans. (Source: Tulane University School of Medicine