(WAFB) - LSU researchers estimate the number of uninsured Louisianans has been cut in half since Governor John Bel Edwards issued an executive order to expand Medicaid. The new Louisiana Health Insurance Survey (LHIS) indicates there were 321,477 uninsured adults in 2017, down from 644,217 in 2015.
The full report can be read here.
"Not only are we saving hundreds of millions of dollars and creating thousands of jobs because of expansion, we're also saving lives. That is the most important part to me," Edwards said. "We are saving lives because we have more people insured."
The LHIS is conducted every other year by researchers at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication and the E.J. Ourso College of Business. This is the state's first look at the post-expansion results that are tailored for Louisiana, including data on specific programs unique to the state.
"It was the right decision for the people of Louisiana," Edwards said. "This is what it looks like to put Louisiana first."
Another study conducted by an LSU economist estimates Medicaid expansion has created or helped retain nearly 19,000 jobs in Louisiana. Edwards has consistently touted expansion's expected economic impact since he took office, despite frequent criticism from some Republican legislators, who say the state cannot sustain a growing health department.
"This has already changed lives," said Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Secretary Rebekah Gee. "We have also improved the fiscal health of our state, while helping the fiscal health of hundreds of thousands of our residents."
The study notes insurance rates did not change in some industrial regions where lower oil prices should have had a negative impact. The survey summary suggests expansion offered an insurance alternative for people who would have had a difficult time finding jobs with benefits during a time of economic uncertainty.
LDH could use the results to identify areas of need and target solutions in specific locations.
"We're excited, but we're nowhere near finished," Edwards said, referencing the 320,000 Louisiana adults who still do not have health insurance.