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Solving LA Obamacare harm to spread out pain

Like herpes, the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) keeps on giving. And Louisianans, who gained some relief from it courtesy of recent reforms, to varying degrees find themselves paying more one way or another.

Designed to redistribute income and to fail in making health insurance affordable for all but lower-income households to put maximal pressure on moving towards a single-payer system, upon its 2014 implementation it sent insurance rates skyrocketing. But even as legally people had to purchase this product (the “individual mandate”), only relatively few in the individual market did because of subsidization for lower-income households. This meant some people had to pay four different ways: not only with the higher rates, but also to government for the subsidies received by lower-income policyholders that made their costs close to zero, to subsidize a federal reinsurance fund ameliorating rate hikes, and to finance subsidies to insurers to do the same.

Yet that last expense contravened the Constitution, and Pres. Donald Trump wisely cut those off this year. This transpired after 2016, when the reinsurance fund expired by law. Combined with federal statutory changes that removed the individual mandate beginning next year, with fewer subsidies to insurers and a patient mix likely to change that increases costs per insured person, rates likely will continue upwards.


Vulnerable Edwards seeking reform compromise

What may appear as negligence and ineptitude to some in fact shows a politically realistic strategy for Louisiana’s Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards and his endangered reelection chances.

Well past the halfway point of his term, Edwards has little to show for his time in office. He said he would put the state on firm financial footing, but all he did was raise taxes and spend more while failing to stop chronic budget shortfalls. He made more people eligible for free government-run health care, but even a report that overestimates its benefits and underestimates its costs can’t hide the fact Edwards raised taxes to support an expensive new entitlement, the benefits of which won’t exceed the costs, for a number of people who could pay for their own insurance anyway.

His most significant, potentially positive achievement therefore comes from criminal justice reforms, comprised of a series of shortening sentences, increasing use of parole and probation, and instituting administrative changes that had the effect of reducing the jailed population size. As long as those changes don’t permit more criminal activity while reducing costs, he can claim policy victory and hang his hat on that for reelection purposes.


Flood underwriting changes increase affordability

A new study concerning flood insurance policy, with any changes disproportionately affecting Louisiana, creeps closer to more appropriate pricing but still falls short of the optimal option.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration, using Census data, compared income data and current pricing to investigate whether to revise rates on affordability criteria. The National Flood Insurance Program chronically has run in the red, prompting changes over the past several years but remains in flux as Congress can’t decide how to alter matters to put it in balance.

The report noted nationally that policyholders earned about half again what non-policyholders made. This suggests an affordability issue, confirmed in that in flood-prone areas twice as many low-income households don’t have insurance than do, with a smaller gap in other areas, while the ratio roughly is reversed for those of higher incomes.