Issue to Watch in 2016: Louisiana's Medicaid Expansion

Date: December 14, 2015

More than 250,000 in the state would be eligible if the expansion is approved.

Thirty-one states have approved Medicaid expansion so far, and pressure from supporters is increasing in the remaining holdout states. While Governor Bobby Jindal resisted Medicaid expansion for Louisiana while he was in office, Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards has a very different idea for his tenure. On the campaign trail and after winning the election, Governor-Elect Edwards has been a vocal advocate for expanding coverage and doing so quickly.

More than 250,000 Louisianans would be eligible for Medicaid if expansion is approved, although the costs for this are still to be determined. According to the Times-Picayune, the Senate Finance Committee began meeting on Dec. 7 to put together a report on the financial implications of expanding Medicaid.

Legislators should take a note from the experiences of other states who have opted for expansion. In many cases, both the number of enrollees and the resulting costs have been vastly underestimated, drowning state budgets. For example, according to a July Associated Press report, enrollment in California was three times what was expected, Washington’s was double and Oregon’s was exceeded by 73 percent. Costs in both Michigan and Ohio have doubled.

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