Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jindal Fatigue

Louisiana's Fifth Congressional District has a new representative this evening.   And it's not Bobby Jindal's preferred candidate, Neil Riser.
Riser, meanwhile, was supported by outgoing congressman Rodney Alexander, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the entire GOP contingent of the Louisiana congressional delegation except U.S. Sen. David Vitter. He also raised huge sums for the race and was long seen as the frontrunner, until McAllister started gaining traction just ahead of the October primary.

While some thought the all-Republican runoff would be marked by each candidate running to the far right of ever issue, McAllister took leave of the usual party line during a debate last week by coming out in support of optional Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act.

McAllister said he disagreed with Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision not to accept the expansion because of the economic make-up of the 5th District. According to census data, the district is one of the poorest in the nation with nearly 25 percent of its more than 750,000 people living below the poverty line in 2010 and 21 without health insurance.
Last week, President Obama visited the Port of New Orleans where he took a moment to call out Governor Jindal for refusing the Medicaid expansion thus sabotaging health care reform at the expense of Louisiana's most vulnerable residents.   Jindal, then, accused the President of "bullying" him. 

Whether the few voters who turned out in LA-05 tonight were thinking about health reform or they just wanted to show up Jindal is up for debate, but whatever the reason, it's safe to assume the Governor is feeling a little pushed around again.  One supposes Jindal still thinks he can run for President. But the candidates he either supports or stumps for have been on a losing streak.

Depending on your interpretation of this result it could instruct the way state candidates position themselves with regard to the Affordable Care Act next year. Much of this strategy will rest on Obama's ability to weather his current "Obama's Katrina" shitstorm.   Here's an intriguing analysis by Kos of Mary Landrieu's approach.
So enter Sen. Mary Landrieu's fix to this issue (see here and here for details). In short, it would allow people to keep their crappy individual insurance policies, but insurance companies would be unable to keep selling them to new customers, and they'd have to let their customers know why the government considers their policies crap and point them to the exchanges for other options. The idea may not be a home run on the policy side, but Democrats don't have the benefit of perfect policy having botched this thing so badly (from original passage to implementation). But even on the policy, it's not terrible.

But on the politics? Woo-boy it's a winner! Remember, some policies are being cancelled because they are substandard. Some are being cancelled because insurance companies are trying to scam their customers into more expensive plans. In both cases, the problem is the insurance companies.

Right now, the blame is being put on Obama and the Democrats. This bill would turn things around and put the pressure exactly where it belongs: on insurance companies and obstructionist Republicans.

Republicans are acting as if these insurance cancellations are the worst thing since Hitler. Well, put them on the spot: Are they really interested in mitigating the law's unintended injustices (whether real or perceived), or do they merely want to undermine its implementation for sabotage purposes?

We know the answer, of course. Landrieu's bill doesn't have a prayer of passing. Republicans will obstruct it every step of the way. But instead of having Obama taking away your insurance, we'll reverse the equation: It'll now be Republicans defending the ability of insurance companies to cancel those policies.

Heading into 2014, that may be the difference between retaining the political high ground, or facing another 2010. Landrieu's gambit is genius.
I'll admit that's subtle.  Maybe a little too subtle, though. I'm certainly no industry insider but everything I read about what health insurance industry insiders say suggests they get all frowny when you start doing anything that monkeys around with their "risk pool" projections and that this could mean bad things for prices next year.  I suspect a lot of that is bullshit  but then so is the whole conceit that we can keep the insurance companies in the health reform game at all and expect a decent outcome.  But maybe Mary does have a brilliant plan to save herself, if no one else. 

There isn't much to say about the judgeship results.  Pretty much what everyone expected in both races.

The same can be said for the security districts on the ballot, each of which passed and each of which is terrible.  Here's a fun fact, though, about the so-called Twinbrook Security District. The little square of Uptown it encompasses adopted that name from the old New Orleans telephone exchange system.
Decades ago, when telephone companies worried that seven-digit phone numbers would be too difficult to remember, they gave the three-digit “exchanges” memorable names, Friend said. Residences in the area had numbers that started with 891-, 895-, 897- or 899-, and the phone company took the “T” on the 8 and the “W” on the 9 to call the area Twinbrook. Thus, callers in the old days phoning someone at 895-1111 would ask the operator for “Twinbrook 5-1111.”

Those exchanges have been out of use since the 1960s, Friend said, but the Twinbrook name returned just after Hurricane Katrina. When the Baronne Street Neighborhood Association asked the state legislature to authorize a tax district for private security patrols in 2006, they chose the name Twinbrook Security District for the board that would govern the fee collections.
Here is a list of  New Orleans telephone exchanges, if you happen to be interested in such geekery.

This link (could.. possibly) send you to a photo I found on the parallel internet of the now demolished Scheinuk Florist on St. Charles Avenue. Above the front door, the business' phone number is displayed in neon lighting. It includes the TW exchange prefix.

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