Accelerate Louisiana Initiative Poised to Have Huge Impact On Health of Louisianans
Louisiana's healthcare landscape has long been a source of concern, with the state persistently ranking at or near the bottom nationally in healthcare performance.
Louisiana is a beautiful state with a strong culture and resilient people. But it has found itself in the unenviable 50th position in America's Health Rankings, highlighting significant challenges in the state's healthcare system. A myriad of factors, including poverty, high obesity rates, low birth weights, and alarmingly high rates of cardiovascular and cancer deaths, contribute to these low rankings. Furthermore, Louisiana grapples with the dubious distinction of having the nation's highest prevalence of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The collective impact of these health disparities has been a cause for concern among policymakers and healthcare professionals alike.
Another study, released in June 2023 stated that “Louisiana was ranked 50th in children’s economic well-being and 49th in children’s health”. One interesting factor that study revealed the additional economic factors that impact Louisiana families when it comes to health, including how the “lack of affordable and accessible child care short changes Louisiana children and causes Louisiana parents to frequently miss work or even quit their jobs.”
And, a 2022 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 22% of Louisianans have some level of medical debt. Medical debt is the largest source of debt in collections in America, and families with children, Americans in the South, and communities of color bear a disproportionate share of the load.
Medical debt’s harm goes beyond unpaid healthcare bills. It lowers credit scores, making it hard to buy or rent a home, get a loan or credit card, or otherwise maintain financial security.
Blue Cross Partnership with Elevance Will Result in $3 Billion Foundation Focused on Improving Health in the State
Amid these sobering statistics, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon as Louisiana embarks on a transformative healthcare journey. The Accelerate Louisiana initiative, envisioned with the ambition to address these complex health needs, represents a beacon of change for the state's residents.
Earlier this year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana announced a deal to join Elevance Health in an acquisition that should be approved by the end of this year. According to Blue Cross website, a portion of the proceeds (approximately $3,000) will go to eligible policyholders at the time the the transaction is finalized. Additionally, Blue Cross will establish one of the “largest private foundations of its kind in the country” and it will focus on health of Louisianans.
The Louisiana Department of Insurance has scheduled public hearings on the Blue Cross/Elevance partnership for October 5 and 6 this year.
Many community leaders have already spoken in favor the proposed foundation and their support can be found here.
To address questions and concerns from the public, BCBSLA has also provided an extensive list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on their website, which can be accessed here.