For decades, corporate leaders have preached that the only way to lure businesses to Louisiana is through generous grants, tax breaks and other incentives. But this approach hasn’t worked, because it fails to address the high poverty rate and poor levels of educational attainment that make Louisiana unattractive to businesses in the first place. Fortunately, new state investments in early childhood education may be a sign that Louisiana is breaking away from this self-defeating approach. An Advocate editorial touts the work of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children and its partners:

Now, talent and workforce considerations drive business investment decisions. If our cities and towns want to grow in the future, they need to have convincing answers to questions like this one: How many high-quality child care centers do you have in this area? In a state where educational levels aren’t where they should be, the early start can also make all the difference in the future workforce available to employers. …  “A child that starts behind often stays behind,” (LPIC Executive Director Libbie) Sonnier said. More funding for high-quality child care can shape our state’s future economic growth, far more than a tax break or other traditional lures for business.

Lawmakers call for delay of Blue Cross sale
The proposed acquisition of the nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana by Elevance Health ran into trouble on Wednesday at the Legislature, where members of the Joint Insurance Committee and leading candidate for governor called for delaying the deal. Critics, including the Louisiana Budget Project, worry about how the move will affect health care costs and the structure of a new foundation that will take the bulk of the sale’s proceeds. The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Stephanie Riegel reports

The hearing Wednesday underscored the difficult road that Blue Cross and Elevance may face in trying to sell the proposed acquisition in coming weeks. By law, Donelon, along with two-thirds of Blue Cross policyholders across the state, must approve the deal in a multi-step process. Two days of hearings on the proposal, which are required for the sale of the nonprofit Blue Cross to the for-profit Elevance to go through, are scheduled for August 21 and 22.

Focus on poverty to fix America’s health care 
America spends more on health care, as a percentage of its economy, than any other country in the world. But this spending doesn’t correlate to improved health outcomes, as Louisiana has a lower life expectancy than Iran. As the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof explains, we need to look beyond medicine to fix America’s health care system and focus on poverty as the underlying problem. 

The medical system can efficiently amputate a foot, but an improvement in self-care of diabetes sometimes requires an injection of hope and improvements in education, job training, earnings and opportunity. This is important because in America our problem is not just that people die in their 70s rather than their 80s. Dr. Steven H. Woolf of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine has found that because of guns, suicides and accidental deaths, child mortality in the United States is rising rather than falling — in a way that he doesn’t believe has any precedent in the past 100 years.

The IRA turns 1
President Joe Biden celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act at a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday. The landmark legislation requires large, profitable corporations to pay more in taxes, and gives the IRS new resources to help ensure that the ultra-wealthy comply with our tax laws. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s Joe Hughes explains the law’s economic benefits and the ongoing fight to preserve them. 

The Inflation Reduction Act helped reorient the tax code and tax administration to do more for real American families and less for the wealthiest 1 percent and multinational corporations. But now its successes need to be defended and improved upon. Already, Republican lawmakers have diluted the success of the legislation in significant ways. 

The law’s most long-lasting impact will be on climate, where it promises to speed up the transition to a cleaner economy that runs on renewable energy. And while the bill passed along strict party lines, members of both parties are now happily taking credit for the jobs being created in their states. Politico’s Kelsey Tamborrino explains

The law, the biggest climate spending package in U.S. history, has spurred a wave of private sector plans for new manufacturing facilities across the country — the majority of which will be located in Republican congressional districts represented by lawmakers who voted against the bill. GOP lawmakers have sought to eliminate the tax provisions under the law, even as some local officials and residents cheer the projects coming to their communities.

Number of the Day
35% – Percentage of the 50,500 Louisianans who’ve been kicked off Medicaid since federal protections expired that are children. (Source: Louisiana Department of Health via the Louisiana Illuminator