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NEW LBP REPORT: Fund diversions erode Louisiana’s safety net

In the two decades since the federal government overhauled America’s welfare system, Louisiana has steadily diverted money meant to help struggling families gain economic security.

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The Daily Dime

Most of the action at the Capitol on Monday occurred behind the scenes, and by the time the day ended, it appeared as though a deal was in place between House and Senate leaders to plug the $304 million mid-year deficit.

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The Daily Dime is a summary of the day's news stories related to the state budget and issues that affect low- and middle-income individuals and families, compiled every business day by Louisiana Budget Project staff.

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Our Two Cents

Medicaid and the state budget

Posted on February 15, 2017

As Louisiana policymakers convene for a special session to address a $304 midyear budget gap, some analysts are claiming that growth in the state’s Medicaid budget is to blame for cuts in other areas of the state budget. Former state Treasurer (now U.S. Senator) John Kennedy recently made the case in the Livingston Parish News:

The rising cost of Medicaid is why TOPS has been cut. The rising cost of Medicaid is why we can’t pay our teachers more. The rising cost of Medicaid is why the interstate is a parking lot in Baton Rouge. The rising cost of Medicaid is a core reason the state is running deficits.

Medicaid is indeed a large program; the largest in the state budget. The program provides health care for people who cannot afford to pay: Elderly people needing nursing home or community-based care, people with disabilities, pregnant women and children from low-income families. Starting July 1, the program also provides coverage for low-income,working-age adults who earn below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,243 per year for a single person).

As policymakers consider making cuts to the Medicaid budget, they should keep some facts in mind about what’s actually driving cost increases in the program:

Louisiana Department of Health, 2014-15

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