Louisiana vs. The Family

Note: this post kicks off a new series titled "Think of the Family," in which we explore ways to strengthen (or at least stop hurting) the family.

Yesterday's Super Bowl blackout drew attention to the nation's less-than-stellar energy infrastructure. We'd like to draw some attention to a different problem in the same state: Louisiana recently announced that they would be cutting aid money to its poor, sick, and elderly. While some might blame the poor for their circumstance, we disagree: as we've argued before, the free market does not always reward hard work. Some might say argue these families will just get those services from the free market. We wish this were the case, but the politicians who made this decision even admit this will not happen in every circumstance:

Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said he targeted programs that were duplicative, costly and optional under the state’s participation in the state-federal Medicaid program.

Greenstein said in many instances, people can get the care they’re losing through other government-funded programs. But he acknowledged that won’t happen in every case, meaning some people will simply lose the services or receive reduced services. [...]

Jan Moller heads the Louisiana Budget Project, which advocates for low- to moderate-income families. Moller said he’s most distressed by the cut to the Nurse-Family Partnership Program.

The health department is eliminating the portion of the program that offers at-home visits to low-income women who are pregnant with their first child. Registered nurses visit the women early in their pregnancy and until their children’s second birthday, offering advice on preventive health care, diet and nutrition, smoking cessation and other child developmental issues. [...]

What the Nurse-Family Partnership does goes above and beyond what a good obstetrician does,” Moller said. “It’s really about teaching life-skills to at-risk moms to make them better parents and make them better able to care for their children, and it’s been proven to work.

As Sy Mukherjee at ThinkProgress points out, this means that families will be left high and dry in the state.

The cuts — as well as Jindal’s proposals to raise taxes on the poor while slashing public education and other health care funding — are meant to plug a midyear budget deficit. But they are more likely to raise health care costs and poverty levels in a state that already ranks among America’s least-insured and poorest locales by pushing people poor people into finding services that they will no longer be able to afford.

 One of the important social teachings of the Mormon faith is the centrality of the family: things that weaken families also weaken society. Taking funding from programs that have proven successful at helping lift families out of desperation and destitution does not help those families. Could you imagine the Good Samaritan taking away his help from a needy family in order to make things more efficient?

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