BATON ROUGE, LA - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, urging them to protect Medicaid expansion as they consider a replacement to the Affordable Care Act.
To date, more than 405,000 Louisianans have enrolled in Medicaid expansion since it began on July 1, 2016, and the State of Louisiana is projected to save nearly $200 million in the first year alone.
"I understand that the issue of health care reform brings sharp divisions across the country and that there are strong opinions about how to best provide quality, affordable health care to our citizens," Gov. Edwards said in the letter. "I will be the first to recognize that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is not perfect, and that we can make significant, meaningful changes to the law without unnecessarily harming the people of this country whose lives and well-being are in the balance."
On Jan. 12, 2016, his first full day in office, Gov. Edwards signed an executive order to expand Medicaid in Louisiana. Coverage began on July 1, 2016.
Under Medicaid expansion:
- More than 62,000 patients have received preventive care treatments;
- More than 5,700 patients have been screened for breast cancer with 74 diagnosed with breast cancer;
- 5,900 patients have received colon cancer screenings; and
- More than 1,300 patients have been diagnosed with diabetes.
In addition, the State of Louisiana is projected to save nearly $200 million in the first year of expansion alone. In subsequent years, the state is expected to save the following amounts:
- FY 18: $329 million
- FY 19: $361 million
- FY 20 (when expansion is set to end in the House bill): $245 million
- FY 21: $185 million
- FY 22: $195 million
"Finally, Medicaid expansion is helping our economy," Gov. Edwards continued in the letter. "Jobs in the health care sector in Louisiana are at an all-time high, and it is estimated that $1.8 billion in increased economic activity will result from expansion. For an energy state struggling with low oil prices, Medicaid expansion is not just a critical source of care for our workers, but a needed source of jobs. Eliminating Medicaid Expansion will reverse these gains and put a drag on our economy."
According to a recent Gallup survey, Louisiana's uninsured rate dropped from 22 percent in 2013 to 12.5 percent in 2016, one of the greatest drops in the uninsured rate in the country.