Category: Health and Wellness

Another Reason Not to Use Tobacco? COVID-19 in Louisiana

It’s not that often I go after a specific, single behavior, but today I’m in a mood. And I just went through COVID-19, so I’m especially fired up.

Blessedly, my symptoms were not that severe, and I’ve recovered well. But while I was sick, I read a LOT about the impact of tobacco use on people trying to recover from COVID-19, and the news there is not good, especially for Louisiana. I’ve got several pre-existing conditions that could have made my bout with COVID-19 worse, but thankfully tobacco use is not one of them.

Read more

Category: ACA and Policy, Government Programs, Health Insurance

The ACA Goes to Court, Part 237!  (Ok, I’m not really counting)

A little over 10 years ago, I was sitting in a tiny hotel room in Washington, D.C., waiting for a phone call from a friend who is a lobbyist for our Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. It was Christmas Eve 2009, and we were awaiting the final vote of the U.S. Senate on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I remember very clearly thinking that there was nothing to stop the then-Democratic majority from passing the ACA. Certainly, they had put a ton of work, time and effort into the law. But — they put much less time into gaining the trust of the opposition.

Read more

Category: Health and Wellness

Tracking Louisiana’s Progress Against COVID-19, Part 3: Death Rate by Age

I was so blessed growing up. I was a small-town boy (Morgan City was a city in name only!), an oldest child with four brothers and sisters, and had an incredibly talented, hard-working mom who stayed home with us until I was in high school. I was raised with a hard-working, strong moral character of a dad who had a job that allowed him to spend two out of every four weeks at home. And just for a little spice, his mom, a hard-charging, widowed “Maw-Maw,” lived two blocks away and worked well into her 70s. My Paw-Paw, her husband, passed away three years before I was born, when she was in her 40s. She never remarried.

Read more

Category: Government Programs

Counting America: How Did We Get Here?

Update: A late night ruling on Sept. 24 in U.S. District Court has ordered the federal government to extend counting for the 2020 Census for one more month, until Oct. 31. However, experts expect the ruling to be appealed.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana urges Louisianians to complete the census by the original Sept. 30 deadline. Being counted helps Louisiana get our fair share of federal funds, Congressional seats and electoral college votes.

I was watching a young mom the other day in my neighborhood, trying to get her kids to come inside for dinner. She got so mad, she started counting! “I’m only go


ing to give you to THREE, and then you’re gonna get it!”

Read more

Category: ACA and Policy, Cost of Healthcare, Health Insurance


One of the more interesting things the Affordable Care Act did to the private health insurance business was to tell health insurance companies that the Feds were now in control of their profit margins. What does that mean?

Imagine you are the CEO of your own health insurance company. In fact, let’s call it Your Own Health Insurance Company, or YOHIC for short! How do you think you would feel if YOHIC collected $1 billion in premiums over a year, but only had to pay out $500 million in healthcare costs? Sounds like YOHIC is doing really well, turning a 50% profit. Does YOHIC get to keep the rest of the premiums for its own payroll and profits?

Since 2010, the answer to that question is a resounding NO! Read more

Category: Health and Wellness

Hurricane Recovery in the Time of COVID-19

I’m taking a break from my series on COVID-19 data to talk about something more pressing – our state’s recovery from Hurricane Laura.

If, like me, you’ve spent many years in Louisiana, you’ve dealt with a lot of hurricanes that caused a lot of damage and destruction. I have memories of my childhood home in Morgan City being pummeled so hard by Hurricane Betsy in 1965 (I was a preschooler!) that water was blowing through the bricks and into the sheetrock. The walls of our brand-new house were flexing, like the house was “breathing,” and a telephone pole dropped right onto our roof. Terrifying. Let’s just say my family never stayed for any other hurricane after that one.

Read more