Medicaid expansion set for a vote Wednesday

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 20, 2013 at 10:28 am •  Published: April 20, 2013
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Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, the No. 2 ranking member of the Louisiana House, said the expansion would provide health care coverage to 400,000 uninsured people, save the state money, improve the financial stability of Louisiana's hospitals and pump new money into the economy to create new jobs.

The potential expansion would cover adults making up to 138 percent of the poverty level — $15,420 a year for an individual or $31,812 for a family of four. The federal government will cover the full costs of the Medicaid expansion from 2014 to 2016 and pick up most of the price tag after that, requiring states to pay up to 10 percent.

Louisiana would get an estimated $15 billion to $16 billion in federal Medicaid funding over a decade to cover the additional low-income residents.

Both opponents and critics cite financial estimates from a recent report by the state Department of Health and Hospitals to bolster their positions on the state's costs.

The DHH report says Louisiana could save up to $368 million over 10 years while covering more than 577,000 additional people through Medicaid, figures referenced by supporters of expansion. The savings can be attributed to lessening existing state costs for providing health care to the uninsured.

Jindal cites the numbers on the high end of the DHH report, which estimates that if 653,000 new people are covered and the Medicaid expansion forces up the rates paid to doctors and other health providers, the state could face a price tag reaching $1.7 billion over a decade.

Lawmakers, particularly Republicans in the Senate, have urged the Jindal administration to consider a private insurance Medicaid expansion model, like Arkansas.

Louisiana's neighboring state has asked federal officials to let it use the Medicaid money to buy private insurance policies, and the Obama administration is working with the state on that idea.

But Jindal's interim DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert dismissed that concept in a recent legislative hearing, saying the federal guidelines outlined for the Arkansas proposal still leave too much uncertainty about future financing and regulations.

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Online:

House Concurrent Resolutions 4 and 8 and House Bills 110, 233 and 449 can be found at www.legis.la.gov



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