Analysis: Little data for Medicaid opposition

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 17, 2013 at 4:01 pm •  Published: March 17, 2013
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Estimates are that up to 400,000 more Louisiana residents could be eligible for Medicaid in 2014 and thereafter if the state chooses to expand the program. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates it would cost Louisiana $1.2 billion over 10 years to cover the additional low-income residents in exchange for $15.8 billion in federal funding.

Jindal said the expansion would be too costly for states. He said insurance is better handled by private companies and states should be free to design health programs tailored to their needs.

"We made the decision to not expand, so we're not putting a great deal of time in what-ifs," Greenstein said.

The health secretary acknowledges the state's 2010 analysis, done by an outside consulting firm, didn't include modeling about whether savings on uninsured care currently paid by the state could help offset Louisiana's costs of a Medicaid expansion.

He said the Jindal administration has sought more flexibility from the federal government to let the state decide how to cover its residents with insurance, but hasn't heard back. But Greenstein said the administration hasn't filed a formal request with the federal health department.

Meanwhile, Jindal's blasted the health law in editorials and in conservative media.

Greenstein said federal officials have provided little guidance about the regulations since the state's last analysis of the health care law to prompt further study.

"Much of the research is difficult to do beyond what we've done," he said.

The House and Senate insurance committees asked Greenstein's Department of Health and Hospitals to dig further into the details and to gather information from states like Arkansas that are working on alternative program models with the Obama administration.

"The people of this state deserve to know whether we're making the right decision, and I can tell you right now I do not know," said Morrish.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Melinda Deslatte covers the Louisiana Capitol for The Associated Press.