Calendar Icon7/11/12 - 07:38 PM by Pamela Fisher

Medicaid Expansion Vital for Louisiana

On Sunday, July 1, 2012, just days after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, Governor Jindal announced that Louisiana would not participate in the Medicaid expansion portion of the law.  This expansion, which is scheduled to begin in 2014, allows states to cover additional individuals under Medicaid up to 133% of the poverty level, mostly paid by the federal government.  Many of these people currently have no health insurance.

The reality is that people without health insurance do not receive regular checkups and avoid costly medical procedures.  These delays in obtaining treatment can easily lead to more costs and poor quality of life.  A recent study by Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at Harvard, examined the impact of Medicaid on a random sampling of people in Oregon.  "Our study shows that Medicaid does, in fact, use resources, but that it also significantly helps people.  As a society, we need to weight the program's financial costs against the tangible and intangible improvements in beneficiaries' lives. (1)

Louisiana has 366,318 low-income people (133% of the federal poverty level) who will be denied coverage and will therefore lose $7.273 million federal dollars by not spending $337 million of State funds between 2014-19.  If Louisiana enrolled these people, the State's share of Medicaid spending would increase by only 1.7%. (2)  It is likely that the decrease in the state portion of uncompensated costs -- those costs to provide care to individuals without insurance -- will offset the increased Medicaid expenses. (3)

Why is the State rejecting a program that can only help Louisianians?

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(1) http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/winter-2012/hitting-the-lottery.html

(2) Kaiser Commission's "Medicaid Coverage and Spending in Health Reform: National and State-by-State for Adults at or Below 133% FPL" at Table 1.

(3) Steve Gold, http://www.stevegoldada.com

 

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