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.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.