Legislation that would establish a virtual one-stop shop for health insurance options statewide has received at least some bipartisan support in Louisiana so far, despite staunch opposition and what one policy group calls “misinformation” from the idea’s biggest critics — Gov. Bobby Jindal and state Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein.
The concept of health care exchanges, or an “Amazon.com” of all things health insurance as termed by Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessell, is one of the few components of Obamacare that boasted bipartisan support for its ability to increase competition and open up the health insurance market. The issue also has created a chasm of sorts between Republican governors, some of whom favor it and others, like Jindal, who oppose the idea.
Still, Louisiana is one of only a few states in the country that has not agreed to establish its own health-insurance exchange, according to a report from The Advocate. And if the Legislature sides with the governor and balks at the bill (SB 744) to create Louisiana’s own exchange system, Louisiana will “be stuck with the [exchange] that’s designed by the federal government” if the federal law survives the scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court, Wessell tells NPR in a recent interview.
The state bill, proposed by state Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, would create a 19-member board to set up the exchange and also develop a Small Employer Insurance Exchange for small business owners looking to offer health insurance to employees. It won 6-2 approval from the Senate Insurance Committee May 3 in what Greenstein labeled “a very risky move.” The Senate Finance Committee, which delayed taking up the bill during its Thursday meeting, will likely address Peterson's measure Monday.
Hours before the start of Thursday's Finance Committee meeting, the conservative Pelican Institute on Public Policy published its “Five Reasons Not to Create an Obamacare Exchange,” encouraging lawmakers to vote against Peterson’s legislation:
Louisiana taxpayers should not be forced to fund a state exchange. Louisiana could expect to pay approximately $40 million per year to run the exchange. This money would come from the pockets of Louisiana taxpayers. If legislators elect not to establish an exchange, the federal government can create one, but Louisianans would not be forced to pick up the tab. Legislators should not stick their constituents with a $40 million annual bill to help implement an unpopular federal law. If Washington insists on an exchange, let them pay for it.
State legislators should not create a new bureaucracy that will be controlled from Washington. The federal government already prevents states from establishing sensible health care policies. President Obama’s health care law continues this unfortunate trend. Establishing an exchange will do nothing to address this problem. If anything, it will serve as a fig leaf for the federal bureaucrats who dominate health care policy. Legislators should look for opportunities to expand state autonomy over health care policy rather than participating in another exercise in central planning.
A state exchange will make it easier for the Obama administration to enforce troubling aspects of the Affordable Care Act. For example, creating an exchange would make it easier for the Obama administration to collect taxes that fund efforts to force religious employers to provide coverage for services they find immoral. Legislators who oppose this attack on religious freedom should not facilitate it by creating an exchange.
Firing back not long after was the Louisiana Budget Project, a nonprofit policy research organization that’s been largely critical of Jindal’s privatization efforts, with its own "fact sheet" on health-insurance exchanges:
A Louisiana health insurance exchange would be locally designed and run and financially self-sufficient. It will help an estimated 350,000 Louisianans get affordable health insurance and federal premium tax credits beginning in 2014.
In reality, the federal government will cover the cost of setting up a health insurance exchange and pay for its first year of operation. After that, the exchange can sustain itself without any state general funds through strategies that all other states are considering—like a modest fee on the new insurance company revenue generated by the sale of plans in the exchange or selling advertising on the exchange website.
The Pelican Institute derived its flawed estimate from the budget of the Massachusetts Connector, an exchange-like entity set up in that state in 2006. But the Massachusetts model isn’t a valid comparison for Louisiana. First, Massachusetts didn’t get any of the help with set up and operating costs that Louisiana would receive from the federal government. Second, the Connector’s costs include tax subsidies to help people afford their health insurance premiums because Massachusetts paid those costs under its reform. But the federal government will pay the full cost of these subsidies for Louisiana residents.
Unfortunately, Louisiana has declined all federal financial support so far — that’s the real bad budget decision.
The Pelican Institute claims that creating a state-based health insurance exchange will increase federal control.
The opposite is true. The federal health care law allows each state to set up its own exchange. States have broad flexibility to design and run their exchanges as they see fit. In fact, the exchange concept was originally developed by conservative think tanks, and for years enjoyed bipartisan support precisely because it provides a state-based solution and uses the private market to address the problem of unaffordable health insurance.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales
If an Acadia Parish fiddler misses a note while swatting a fly, will a St. Martinville accordionist learn “Ma ‘Tite Fille”?
(It's good, it's bad and it's just crazy)