The BAD NEWS was right there in the headline: “Louisiana loses 19,600 jobs over a 12 month period through May 2016.” (The Advocate, June 17, 2016) Not counted in the headlines are the thousands of hourly employees whose hours are being cut to less than full time, thanks to oil sector slowdowns. It is vitally important during these times of crisis that those most affected do not lose track of their most valuable asset – their health.
The candidates on the campaign trail have their opinions about how to fix the Affordable Care Act (ACA), how to make health insurance marketplaces work better and how to get everybody insured. Every policy wonk and think tank in America has weighed in on the problem. Of course, their solutions are all in alignment with their institutional biases on how healthcare OUGHT to work in America.
Louisiana is extending Medicaid coverage this month to about 400,000 people with incomes below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, or FPL (that’s about $16,400 a year for a single person or around $33,400 for a family of four). For most folks, this Medicaid coverage will take effect July 1, 2016, which is just a few weeks away.
It’s a beautiful day for fishing, and my old friend Ken (a very successful engineer in his mid-50s who just finished absorbing the cost of putting his two kids through college) and I are taking advantage of it. We usually talk shop a bit because we don’t see each other very often. This time, the conversation turns to insurance. Ken drops a pretty cast, turns to me and opens with this shot across my bow:
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of our interview with interim Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Paul Murphree.
There is no doubt that the advancement of medical technology is a very expensive business. Research into new drugs by the 10 biggest drug companies in 2013, for example, exceeded $66 billion in brand-new spending. That’s a whole lot of money that their investors and shareholders are willing to risk for the NEXT big drug. And this level of investment has actually been growing for about 20 years straight — even more so lately, as global capital is chasing its way into the United States looking for a strong return. A really strong target for this capital is the U.S. pharmaceutical industry.