State reform battles pose some paradoxes
Louisiana has a large population of uninsured residents and one of the nation’s lowest life-expectancy rates—but don’t you dare try to force its citizens to get healthcare coverage!
Outliers raised an eyebrow after noting that the Bayou State, which has one of the country’s highest rates of uninsurance at 19.3%, has joined 17 other states in filing a joint lawsuit in federal court to block last month’s national healthcare reform law on the basis that it creates an illegal federal mandate to buy insurance.
“This will cause our poorest people to be severely impacted by this farreaching action by Congress,” Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell says in a written statement. That “severe impact,” by the way, is the estimated $350 million bill that Caldwell says Louisiana will have to pay under the federal law, and not the health impact on the 48.6% of Louisiana adults below the federal poverty line who do not have insurance today.
Then again, you know something bears more examination when three of the nation’s top five uninsured states are leading the charge against a law that mandates that their citizens have insurance.
Florida, which initiated the lawsuit in Pensacola just minutes after the president signed the reform law March 23, has an uninsurance rate of 20.2%. That’s the nation’s third-highest percentage of uninsured, according to the most recent figures released late last year. Florida was soon joined by Texas, which claims the nation’s highest percentage of uninsured residents at 25.2%, and Louisiana, which is fifth in the nation.
Just for the heck of it, Outliers looked up the life-expectancy rates of the states protesting the healthcare laws and found another interesting cluster. Four of the nation’s top five states with the shortest lifespan are also among those suing to stop reform: Mississippi (shortest life span in the country), Louisiana (No. 2), Alabama (No. 3), and South Carolina (No. 4).
What’s the message? Outliers hesitates to venture into politics here. But when a state like Texas—where 61.7% of adults below the federal poverty line are uninsured—starts talking about the evils of helping people buy healthcare coverage, we must confess to being a tad bewildered.
West Virginia (75.5 years)
New Mexico (23.2%)