Louisiana lawmakers discuss making changes to Medicaid bill

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The issue of Medicaid expansion is once again being debated at the Louisiana Capitol. After a number of bills requiring the state to conform to federal guidelines failed last week, the topic has surfaced again.

A bill presented by Rep. Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge was introduced to the House Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday. The bill originally called for the state to adhere to the federal Affordable Care Act, but several amendments would change it to more of a hybrid plan.

However, members of Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration are still opposing any expansion, while those in support called for sympathy for the uninsured.

"I would hope that we in Louisiana are not becoming so partisan that we can't look at a good idea and improve upon it," said Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa.

"If all states expanded, Louisiana would have the second highest percentage of its residents on Medicaid and that's at 39 percent," added Kathy Kliebert, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. "Their estimates, as I said, are more conservative, second only to New Mexico at 44 percent."

The bill was still being discussed in committee at noon.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.