BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Open enrollment for Louisiana's Medicaid expansion program started Wednesday and thousands of people in the state wasted no time signing up.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced around 11:45 a.m. that 175,000 people had already enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program.
"This is a win-win for Louisiana," Edwards said Tuesday.
In January, on his first day in office, Edwards signed an executive order to expand the Medicaid program in Louisiana.
The Department of Health and Hospitals estimates the program will help provide healthcare access to more than 350,000 Louisiana adults. Eligible adults are those who don't currently have full Medicaid coverage or who can't afford to buy private health insurance.
"Seventy percent of the Medicaid expansion population are full-time employees. They work construction, they work retail, they work tourism - you name it. These are working people. These are people who are contributing to Louisiana every day, but who, through no fault of their own, don't have access to healthcare insurance," Edwards explained.
DHH said the benefits under the expansion will be the same benefits currently provided to people with Medicaid under the Bayou Health Plan.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must fall between the ages of 19 and 64, not currently receiving Medicare or Medicaid benefits, meet household income and citizenship requirements.
"It's really the health outcomes that we're looking for more than the savings, more than just the expansion of coverage. We want a healthier citizenry in Louisiana and this is going to take us a long way towards that goal," Edwards added.
Open enrollment coverage in Louisiana will begin on Friday, July 1, 2016.
There are 31 states plus the District of Columbia that have adopted the federal expansion program.