Gov. Edwards addresses Senate committee regarding Medicaid expansion

Gov. Edwards addresses Senate committee regarding Medicaid expansion

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With six weeks until enrollment begins for those who qualify for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the governor is working to hammer out the details of expanding the program in Louisiana.

Appearing in front of a Senate committee Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards told lawmakers the expansion will create lots of savings for Louisiana. Expanding Medicaid was part of his platform during the race last fall.

For next fiscal year alone, the governor said Medicaid expansion will save the state about $184 million.

Over five years, the Edwards Administration said savings could be close to $700 million.

"We know that that when people have insurance, they are more likely to get routine preventative care, they'll have a regular primary care doctor, afford medications to control chronic diseases like diabetes," Edwards said. "And with insurance, women are more likely to get mammograms and other cancer screenings."

As it stands, the state government pays about 40 percent of costs for uninsured. Under the expansion, the state would not cover more than 10 percent.

The federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs of expansion for the rest of the year. By 2020, that will drop to 90 percent, but it will remain at that level into the future.

The governor signed an executive order to expand the Medicaid program on his second day in office, something that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem to be embracing. In previous years, the Jindal Administration avoided expanding Medicaid under the ACA.

"I believe that the folks in the prior administration who said we couldn't afford Medicaid expansion, they took the worst case scenario on every variable and assumed that whatever cost was going to come our way was going to come our way, whatever reimbursement we could lose we would lose. And they said we just can't afford to do it," Edwards said.

Officials say about 300,000 to 450,000 people could qualify for the healthcare program under expansion, and about 70 percent of them have full-time jobs in the food services, tourism or construction industries.

Those who qualify can begin registering on June 1. The program benefits begin rolling out on July 1.

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