The Louisiana Budget Project released the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell:
Today’s Supreme Court’s decision is a major victory for the 138,000 Louisianans who were in danger of losing their health coverage. It affirms that Congress intended for Americans in every state to have access to tax credits that make coverage affordable.
The case was a desperate attempt by opponents of the law to deny the promise of health coverage to millions of Americans, and an adverse ruling would have crippled state insurance markets. Most legal experts found little basis to the lawsuit, and fortunately, the Supreme Court agreed.
We now know that health reform is here to stay, and every month brings new evidence that it is working. More people are getting health coverage, which improves access to primary care doctors and preventive care. With fewer uninsured patients, hospitals and clinics are getting reimbursed for more of the services they provide, which is good news for state economies.
The Affordable Care Act is not perfect. But instead of continuing attempts to undermine reform, opponents of the law should help work to make it better. In Louisiana, that means extending coverage to the nearly 300,000 adults who are uninsured and stuck in a “coverage gap.” They make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford private insurance through the health care exchange. Most of the people stuck in this gap have jobs, in industries such as construction, tourism and child care, but don’t make enough to qualify for coverage.
Medicaid expansion would not only improve health access for these fellow Louisianans, but would also stabilize our hospitals and create thousands of jobs. Federal dollars would cover nearly all of the cost. States that have already expanded are seeing big budget savings as a result.
The evidence is clear that closing the coverage gap needs to be a “day one” priority for the next governor and Legislature.