With the coming change in administrations, Louisiana has an historic opportunity to extend health coverage to as many as 275,000 uninsured, low-income adults. After years of delay, Louisiana should not wait any longer to join the 30 states that have expanded Medicaid to take advantage of new federal dollars.
A new commentary by LBP’s Steve Spires notes that expanding coverage will improve Louisiana’s health outcomes while saving much-needed money in the state budget.
Despite critics’ claims that Medicaid expansion is unaffordable, evidence from other states shows the opposite. States that expanded Medicaid are saving millions by reducing spending on inefficient charity care programs as the uninsured gain health coverage, and consolidating outdated parts of the Medicaid program to take advantage of new federal funds. Louisiana could realize similar savings.
While some have suggested that Louisiana should only expand coverage through a “demonstration waiver” from the federal government, such waivers take months to negotiate and often drive up costs for the state. This is time and money that Louisiana can’t spare, as the federal government will pay the full cost of Medicaid expansion only through the end of 2016.