The vast majority of Louisianans who have been kicked out of the state’s Medicaid program – due to the expiration of pandemic-era coverage protections – were dropped for procedural reasons, not because they were ineligible. Approximately a third of these 160,000 newly uninsured people are kids. A Times-Picayune |Baton Rouge Advocate editorial decries how easy it is for kids to lose vital health insurance: 

What happens when a hard-pressed single mother working two jobs moves to a new apartment, perhaps to take advantage of a move-in special? Contact info that’s a necessity for government programs like Medicaid can get disrupted, just as much as the family’s arrangements for schools and other necessities. … “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.” 

Dr. Danielle Ofri, in a guest essay for the New York Times, uses her own experience of missing the Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period to lament how easy it is to lose health coverage in the United States. 

A recent LBP report explains the changing federal rules stemming from the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, a process known as “unwinding” — and what we can do to help minimize the coverage cliff.

A toll too far
Under pressure from trucking companies that objected to proposed new tolls, a House-Senate transportation committee rejected a financing plan for a new bridge across the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles. The 8-6 vote by the Joint Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee could torpedo a $2.1 billion proposed project that is being partially financed by a $150 million federal “mega grant” that represented the largest transportation grant in state history. The Times-Picayune |Baton Rouge Advocate’s James Finn explains the short-term and long-term consequences of the decision: 

“The incoming (governor’s) administration will be set up for failure,” warned Eric Kalivoda, Louisiana’s transportation secretary. “There will be a public expectation on the new administration and the new Legislature to deliver a toll-free bridge.” … Kalivoda warned that canceling the partnership could leave the state unable to hire a new contractor for the project. He echoed union leaders in saying that killing the plan could potentially “ruin” the state’s market for public-private partnerships for “years to come.”

Reality check: The aging bridge is a vital artery that connects Louisiana to Texas. The Lone Star State, which is a favorite comparison for state policymakers, relies heavily on tolls to generate infrastructure revenue.

IRA funds must reach intended communities
Environmental justice advocates and community organizers are worried that billions of dollars in federal tax credits and grants that could help reduce pollution and navigate the effects of a changing climate won’t make it to where they’re needed most. Floodlight’s Terry L. Jones reports on those concerns and efforts to ensure the funding from the Inflation Reduction Act reaches its intended communities: 

Andreanecia Morris, president and chairwoman of the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance … is concerned state policymakers will set impossible parameters meant to block certain segments of the population from getting too much money or none at all. Morris says often an anti-Black, anti woman “welfare-queen” stereotype is used to block money to Black, minority and lower-income communities. ”They’ll say we’re trying to prevent fraud and abuse while paying disaster profiteers millions of dollars to administer these programs but not actually get the money out the door,” Morris said. 

Decades-old funding formulas for transportation projects favor white areas, according to a new report from the Urban Institute. The report analyzes the first full year of funding from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act down to the neighborhood level and includes an interactive funding map. 

SAT data highlights deep education inequality
Students from the nation’s richest families were more than seven times as likely to score a 1300 on the SAT – a high score that provides access to better higher education opportunities – than their counterparts in the poorest families. The gap was even wider for the children of the richest 1%. The Upshot’s Claire Cain Miller and Francesca Paris explain the latest report showing the inexorable link between poverty and academic performance: 

Starting very early, children from rich and poor families receive vastly different educations, in and out of school, driven by differences in the amount of money and time their parents are able to invest. And in the last five decades, as the country has become more unequal by income, the gap in children’s academic achievement, as measured by test scores throughout schooling, has widened. “Kids in disadvantaged neighborhoods end up behind the starting line even when they get to kindergarten,” said Sean Reardon, the professor of poverty and inequality in education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. “On average,” he added, “our schools aren’t very good at undoing that damage.”

Number of the Day
19.7% – Share of U.S. adults whose monthly expenses totaled more than their income in September. (Source: Morning Consult)