Healthcare committee discusses Medicaid expansion in Louisiana

Healthcare committee discusses Medicaid expansion in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor-elect John Bel Edwards has said Medicaid expansion is one of his top priorities. He has said that he will sign an order to expand the program within the first days on the job.

On Friday, Medicaid was one of the topics up for discussion among a committee on healthcare that was formed in 2015. Representative Pat Smith, D-Baton Rouge, said the group was formed to study the delivery of healthcare across the state.

Part of that discussion includes how to move forward with the expansion.

Edwards has said making healthcare available to some of the low-income families in the state could mean less people living in poverty.

One of the concerns among the committee is whether there are enough health care workers in the state to handle the influx of those who may sign up.

"The shortage we have of nurses and doctors, nurse practitioners. Individuals we need in place," Smith said.

That includes specialty doctors.

Current estimates are that some 307,000 would be eligible for insurance coverage under the expansion. That is adults 19 to 64. There is also another 224,000 people who currently have insurance in the private marketplace that could also qualify.

Smith said when there are that many people that could possibly be added in, there's a need to make sure the healthcare workforce is adequate. Particularly because some providers in the state do not accept Medicaid.

The group hopes to make recommendations to lawmakers once the expansion is on the table.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.