Louisiana is one of the unhealthiest states for women and children, according to a new report from the United Health Foundation. While infant mortality and neonatal mortality decreased nationwide, they increased in Louisiana, and the state’s increased child mortality rate was more than double the national increase. The report’s authors explain how a much wider gap exists between Louisiana and other states ahead of it. 

This graph displays the state scores in order of rank, with the least healthy states on the left and the healthiest states on the right. The distance between bars shows the difference between state scores. For example, Louisiana (No. 48) and Oklahoma (No. 47), while close in ranking, have a sizable difference in score, meaning a lot of progress would need to be made in order for Louisiana to improve its score and move up in the rankings

Shutdown averted for now, but what comes next
Congress recently passed a temporary spending bill to avert a federal government shutdown. But the short-term fix means that a shutdown is still possible unless lawmakers can agree on a longer-term spending plan before a mid-November deadline. Governing’s Zina Hutton explains how state and local governments can prepare:  

In the interim, state and local governments have some options they can take up as they prepare for what the closure would bring to bear on their budgets and constituents.  … With uncertainty over government funding still strong, the best thing that local and state governments can do across the next 45 days is to prepare their own flexible finance contingency plans that will allow them to respond swiftly, maintaining their constituents’ trust in government. But they better start preparing now. The clock is already ticking.

More hospitals need to embrace midwifery
Nurse Midwifery Week Is being celebrated across the country. But many Louisiana hospitals have been slow to embrace this group of health care professionals. This comes despite midwives’ ability to fill gaps in rural maternity care deserts and address a statewide infant mortality crisis. Juan Vargas, chair of women’s services (OB-GYN), Ochsner Health Baton Rouge, in a letter to the Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate, explains how the state needs more hospitals to embrace midwifery

Ochsner has offered midwifery care to the Baton Rouge community for 13 years. We are among the few hospitals in the state that credential midwives to attend in-hospital deliveries. Our group performs over 1,500 births per year with exceptional safety and patient satisfaction records. This collaborative model makes it possible to blend the best of midwifery and traditional OB-GYN practices, offering expectant mothers more birthing options while practicing evidence-based medicine and maintaining the highest levels of care. Educating the next generation of midwives has also been central to this practice.

Biden provides more student loan forgiveness
President Joe Biden canceled more than $9 billion in student loan debt on Wednesday, a move that affects more than 125,000 borrowers. The cancellation comes in the same month that loan payments are scheduled to resume after a pandemic pause, and after the White House opened applications for the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan, a new income-driven repayment plan. The U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected previous efforts to cancel some debts. The New York Times’ Zach Montague explains who will be receiving relief. 

More than $5 billion will go toward relief for 53,000 employees working in federal, state and local government and other organizations that qualify for the program. Mr. Biden said that because of “red tape,” only 7,000 people in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program had received the relief they were eligible for over nearly 15 years. Another $2.8 billion was directed toward about 51,000 people who have been paying down an undergraduate loan for 20 years or more but missed out on some amount of forgiveness eligibility. The Education Department said it had achieved this by fixing “historical inaccuracies in the count of payments that qualify toward forgiveness” for those borrowers. The rest of the money goes toward those on disability.

Sen. Bill Cassidy is leading a GOP effort to kill the SAVE plan and block more than 20 million people from lowering their monthly student loan payments. 

Number of the Day
48th – Louisiana’s national ranking for the health of women and children. (Source: United Health Foundation)