Louisiana Medicaid Expansion Set to Begin June 1

Date: May 17, 2016 Last Edit: May 18, 2016

Efforts to stall or block the program have failed.

Louisiana Medicaid Expansion Set to Begin June 1

 Enrollment in Louisiana’s expanded Medicaid
program, Healthy Louisiana, will begin June 1, and healthcare benefits will
start July 1.

 State officials have estimated that
approximately 375,000 people could enroll in the program under the expanded
eligibility allowance. However, the Pelican State Medicaid rolls could end up
swelling far beyond estimates, which has happened in many other states that
have opted to expand Medicaid.

Meanwhile, Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced
his administration’s expectation that Medicaid expansion will save Louisiana
about $677 million in the first five years and $1 billion over the next 10
years. At least two Louisiana hospitals, along with expansion opponents, have
taken issue with these optimistic projections. If savings estimates are
inflated, public-private partner hospitals could face shortfalls and funding
cuts.

Per Affordable Care Act rules, the federal
government will cover 100 percent of the expansion costs this year, and will
then begin decreasing its share gradually until it reaches 90 percent in 2020.
From then on, Louisiana will pay 10 percent, and the federal government will
pay 90 percent.

However, Dawn Starns, NFIB’s Louisiana state
director, has spoken out in the past about the financial gamble involved in
expanding Medicaid. While Washington is footing the full bill now, there is no
guarantee that Congress won’t increase the percentage states have to pay in the
future as the federal government struggles with trillions of dollars in
national debt. And, with Louisiana already in a budget crisis, even coming up
with 10 percent of the cost of expansion could put the state in an even worse
financial position down the road.

NFIB has called for legislators to work toward
blocking the expansion. Rep. Jay Morris did introduce a bill that would require
approval from the Legislature before the Louisiana Department of Health and
Hospitals could add more people to the Medicaid rolls, but the House Health and
Welfare Committee voted unanimously to defer the bill, reported Route Fifty.

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